Overcoming Social Media Fears

Thomas C. Murray

Thomas C. Murray

2017 Education Thought Leader of the Year and "20 to Watch” by NSBA
Recently, I had the opportunity to connect with Dr. Amy Fast at one of our Future Ready Institutes. Amy is an awesome High School Assistant Principal from Oregon and is the type of school leader that leverages social media in her daily work; to both share the incredible things that happen in her school as well as to grow professionally. Due to the way that she models this for those that she leads, I asked her what tips she has for those leaders, the many leaders, that may be fearful of using social media, and are hesitant to jump in. As you see in the video, Amy instantly points to “a sense of humanity and authenticity” that is appreciated by stakeholders. It’s no secret that teachers want their school and district leaders to be real… Leaders that are “real” and show a sense of humanity and authenticity… 1.) Humbly recognize that they too are working daily to get better 2.) Aren’t afraid to be vulnerable in sharing with those they lead 3.) Don’t pretend to have been the perfect teacher when they were in the classroom 4.) Understand that teachers are people first, and thus value the human heart in the work 5.) Lead by example and model the way Amy shares that, “The more transparent we can be as leaders…the more people feel connected to us and want to invest in our mission and our schools.” Amy’s thought on transparency is key. For me, transparency comes down to trust; and trust is the foundation of every school’s culture. Every day is an opportunity to share the great things happening in your school and district. As my good friend Joe Sanfelippo often points out, the converse is also true… … and that happens every day in school communities across our country. Yet as we blast out information as school leaders, we can’t be naive. It’s imperative that as leaders we have a solid grasp on federal and state privacy laws, as well as on our local school board policy in this area. The reality is that UGLY THINGS DO HAPPEN that involve our schools and social media; so the natural fears for some, are certainly understandable. Here’s a few examples: 10 Social Media Controversies That Landed Students in Trouble This School Year (Edweek, 2017) Why social media can be a minefield for teachers, school officials. (The Press Enterprise, 2017) So where does that leave us as school and district leaders? If we allow the great things that happen inside our buildings to stay within the walls of where they happen, that’s on us. If we do not share the stories that are happening inside of our schools, in relevant ways, that’s on us. If we are negligent in our sharing and social media use, that’s also on us. Heading into 2019, school and district leaders have incredible opportunities to leverage relevant digital tools, and the great news is, it happens every day. But, it’s understandable if you need help along the way. With that, here are some great resources to support your journey: Relevant Tools To Share Your School/District Story: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube Great Reads for School and District Leaders on the Topic: BrandED: Tell Your Story, Build Relationships, and Empower Learning via Eric Sheninger and Trish Rubin The Power of Branding: Telling Your School’s Story – Joe Sanfelippo & Tony Sinanis Follow These Incredible Superintendents that Leverage Social Media to Share Their Story: Matt Miller (OH), Joe Sanfelippo (WI), Karen Sullivan (IL), Marlon Styles, John Carver (TN), Courtney Orzel (IL), Mike Lubelfeld (IL), Glenn Robbins (NJ), Pam Hernandez (CA), Mario Andrade (RI), David Miyashiro (CA), Susan Enfield (WA), Dave Moyer (IL), Jerry Almendarez (CA), Robert Zywicki (NJ), Kristine Gilmore (WI), Todd Keruskin (PA), Randy Ziegenfuss (PA), Roberto Padilla (NY), Kirk Koennecke (OH), Nick Polyak (IL) Awesome Hashtag Examples: (For more on Hashtags, check out this recent great post from Eric Sheninger.) Districts: #GoCrickets (Fall Creek SD, WI), #TigerStrong (Tabernacle SD, NJ), #112Leads (District 112, IL), #PSDReady21 (Parkland SD, PA), #EastPennProud (East Penn, PA), #WeAreLakota (Lakota SD, IL), #IgniteD205 (District 205, IL), #EFProud (Elizabeth Forward, PA) For Professional Growth: #Suptchat, #FutureReady, #FutureReadyNJ, #FutureReadyOH Every day, in every one of your schools, great things happen. Now, go tell the world about your story. All for the kids we serve,
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