Sharing our Story
“We need to make the positive so loud that the negative is almost impossible to hear.” -George Couros, The Innovator’s Mindset
How do you use social media to share what’s going on in your classroom on a day to day basis? I spent some time this week sharing ideas with our faculty about how we can use Twitter to share all the fantastic things we do in our classroom on a daily basis. Over the course of last school year, I spent a lot of time crafting the overall social “brand” of my class, and it was, in my opinion a huge success.
Near the end of the school year two years ago, I had a student say something bad about my class. In hindsight, it was just harmless nonsense that kids say anyway, but the fact that it was in print hurt. But every negative presents an opportunity for a positive, and I made the decision before last year began that I was going to bury that negative. Like my wife always says, it’s hard to believe anything bad you hear about something you hear good things about. I was going to share every single positive I saw in my classroom on every single day. Every tweet was going to be a nail in the coffin of that negative.
I shared everything I could. Photos of my students working and their finished product. Periscope video of my class in action. Everything that I saw that was positive, I tweeted. Kids noticed, our faculty noticed, and our community noticed. Students began to work a little harder because they knew that I was quick to tweet to good stuff. It was amazing.
As a faculty, we spent some time discussing the use of Twitter as a way to share our story. We discussed the risks and the barriers. Surprisingly, the risks were essentially nonexistent at this point. Ten years ago, we were worried about how social media may impact our school by propagating rumors and posting photos of our students on the open internet. Obviously, it has not been nearly as terrifying as teachers once thought. It’s actually been an extremely positive branding tool for our schools. The barriers, on the other hand, were eye-opening for me.
The primary barrier teacher felt was standing between them and Twitter was simply a basic technical understanding of Twitter and how it works. Well, that’s an easy fix. My administrator and myself held small group sessions to “meet ’em where they were at” and teach our faculty how Twitter works based on their level of familiarity with it.
We showed them how to use hashtags, how to tweet “at” individuals and accounts, how to make a list, how to read and participate in a chat, how to use a PLN, anything they wanted to know. The session was incredibly effective. I know this because we put together an activity later that night during our annual meet-the-teacher night. The faculty tweeted as many selfies as possible with students and their parents while using the hashtag #MeetTheTeach. Participation was at such a high level that the hashtag actually trended. Not bad for a school whose social media brand was previously being kept afloat by a handful of people.
At the end of the session, I provided our teachers with a spreadsheet of just a few people I follow on Twitter that was sorted by content, as well as a good list of chats and hashtags to check out at their leisure. Our faculty’s burgeoning PLNs are going to be a great resource this school year, but I’m most excited about the Twittersphere learning about Winterboro High School as we begin really sharing our story.