My School Rocks, Does Yours? - June 18, 2019

This past week, I finished a great book that was referenced in Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf called:

Your School Rocks..So Tell People! by Ryan McLane and Eric Lowe

I have to be honest, before reading #LeadLAP, I had never heard of this book, but as a technology specialist, it has really made an impact on me. It has made me think about the stories we tell as educators.

  • What stories do we portray about our schools?

  • What stories do we share about our students?

  • Who shares these stories?

  • Why are we sharing these stories?

Why is this important?

Not only am I an educator, but I am also a parent of 4 children. Like many parents, when we ask, "What did you do today?" to our children, the answer is frequently, "nothing." In Your School Rocks..So Tell People!" (YSR/STP), the authors share,

If kids are telling their parents nothing special is happening at school, that is the parents' perception whether or not it is accurate (p.12 YSR/STP)

Perceptions are a powerful influence on all of us. What we perceive is what we feel is true.

  • So how can we change the script and help parents and others in the community see something different?

  • How can we tell the stories of what is happening in our schools and reach as many parents and others in the community?

  • How can social media contribute to sharing our school's story?

Twitter? Isn't that just for celebrities?

When I started at Vienna ES as their School Based Technology Specialist, about 10 teachers in my school were using Twitter. As the school's tech specialist, it is part of my responsibilities to tweet out great things. Seeing the power of Twitter on my own professional life, one of my first breakfast trainings was a Tweet and Eat.

Before the training, I shared out these Twitter testimonials from some of my staff already using Twitter.

These teachers share how Twitter has helped them communicate and engage their families in their classrooms. It keeps them up to date and provides a window into their child's classrooms.

Tweet and Tell Your School's Story

My school @ViennaES has now more than doubled its Twitter users since the Tweet and Eat breakfast training. I quickly found as more teachers tweeted, it was no longer necessary for me to be the school's only storyteller. I had many storytellers. They were in many different grades and many different subjects and as a result, many of the great things happening at Vienna for being shared.

One day, a teacher stopped me in the hall to share that working in a primary grade, she was enjoying seeing all the amazing things the upper grade students were doing. She was so happy that not only could she share what her students were doing, but also see other students in other grades at work.

So I've told my story- why do I need a hashtag?

A hashtag is another way to help build community. Hashtags can help us find information, gather information and much more. To help share our story of how our schools rock, a common hashtag is a great way to unite your school's commmunity.

Hashtags promote a sense of community within our schools. (p.74 YSR/STP)

Hashtags can tell a lot about your school. The school I worked at last year's hashtag was "FHESFamily," while my school's hashtag this year is "VESisthebest." When teachers tweet out using the hashtag, it allows the school community to see all the school's tweets together. This year, we used an app called Slidesome, to collect tweets for us to share through our AV system, including the front office displays.

So what else can you do to tell people your school's story?

I loved the ideas that Ryan McLane and Eric Lowe shared. Some of them could be easily integrated in, while others might be more difficult. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Send Out A Weekly Video Newsletter

    • Create 2 to 3 minute video newsletter to share what's going on with your school.

    • Post it to YouTube and then share it through social media and embed it in the school's web page.

    • Have student co-hosts the newsletter with you.

    • Highlight what students achieved in the past week and what to expect in the coming week.

2. Use Facebook to share your school's greatness

"If you want to reach your audience, it makes sense to go where they are." (p.32 YSR/STP)

  • If you look at the parents at your school, the majority of them are on Facebook- so why not reach them where they are already at?

  • You can create a Business or Organization Page, which doesn't accept friend requests.

  • Customize your settings based on your school's needs.

  • Communicate regularly to help foster a relationship between school and home.

  • Share the great things happening in your school.

3. Send our daily inspirational messages on Instagram

  • To promote a positive culture at school, post a daily message that focuses on positivity.

  • Use images and messages to inspire students.

  • Share these positive messages daily.

4. Collaborate with your staff and students on a School Blog

    • You can use a school blog to tell their school's story.

    • Have students, families and others contribute and share on the blog and tell their stories.

    • Make it a community effort for the school.

"Social media is our new super power and can help us (educators) maintain a positive culture." p.98 YSR/STP

@ViennaES @ourfcps rocks- check out our hashtag: #VESisthebest

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