During my school days in the 1990’s the only tell-tale signs of what I had been up to all day was usually the spilt paint on my school uniform or a letter from the head teacher in my school bag. My parents would have to wait until parents evening to find out more detailed information regarding what I had been learning. Interaction between my parents and my teachers was minimal.
These days, many schools have taken a more direct and interactive approach to keeping not only parents informed but the wider community as well. Once the initial scaremongering of social media faded away, schools started to share their daily activities with photos, tweets and announcements promoting what their students were doing on different social media channels. After all, if you’re doing an amazing job, why not shout about it?!
We spoke to one parent who said: “I love seeing what my children are doing at school. Their school regularly tweets photos of them throughout the week and I’m able to see all the amazing ways their teachers keep them engaged during their lessons. It also helps me interact with my children in the evenings as I’m able to get a clearer understanding of what they have been doing.”
If your school hasn’t started to enjoy the world of social media yet, take a look at our top tips for getting started! Let us know what you think on our social media channels and also get access to lots more top tips for your classroom. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.
Define Your Social Media Strategy
- This might sound like a daunting first task but it is vital. You need to decide what social media tools you are going to use, what security you want to apply, what content you want to share and most importantly, who is going to manage your channels. There is no point in going to the effort of setting up social media accounts if you don’t have anyone to update them.
- Write a Social Media Policy and ensure all staff have read and understood it. Your policy should cover not only your school’s official accounts but individual personal accounts.
- Setting up a Facebook page for your school is really simple to do! We love this You Tube video which gives step by step instructions on how to do this. Your school will be able to communicate with parents, students and the wider community quickly and easily thus cutting the need for so many letters home!
- You can set up different administrators for your Facebook page and give them different roles so you don’t all have to share one account.
- Decide on the content you wish to share on your schools page by taking a look at other local schools’ pages. Having your school academic calendar available on your page is a great idea and also ensure you always announce any school closings. You will probably find these are the main reasons parents will ‘like’ your Facebook page however once they are following, try to engage them with other content such as links to press articles, photos of days out or school performances. We love seeing schools posting ‘Student of the Month’ alerts too!
- Set up a Facebook group if you would like a secure place for teachers, parents or students to be able to discuss topics in a private forum. By setting your group as private you can make it invitation only which means your content will remain confidential.
- As with Facebook, setting up a Twitter account for your school is really quick and easy. You can decide to keep your posts secure and only visible to those who you accept as a follower or public so that everyone can see your posts.
- Your Twitter account can only have one administrator so if there are a number of you who want to have access you will have to share the same login details. Many schools have a main Twitter account for example @WillowBrookSchool and then will have individual teacher account such as such as @MrMatthews. They will focus their key school information such as day closures and dates for the diary on their main school account and lesson plans and homework on the individual teacher accounts. Both accounts can retweet each other and share information.
- Your Twitter account can link to an RSS feed from your school website which will automatically tweet a news article when it is published on the site.
- Our favourite Twitter account for inspirational educational tweets belongs to school teacher Carol McLaughlin @missmac100 and don’t forget you can follow us @lumioeducation.
- Google+ is similar to Facebook however is currently used less by schools to communicate as it’s not yet widely used. We suggest you use your Google+ page in the same way you use your Facebook and Twitter, you can even use tools such as Hootsuite to post on all of your social media channels at the same time saving you lots of time and effort.
- Pinterest is a great tool for sharing web resources that students will find interesting or relevant.
- Teachers can have students set up collaborative boards for specific projects, portfolios, or to add an exciting dimension to a digital newspaper.
- Collaborative boards can be set up so multiple users can pin together ideas and resources to create one huge visual.
- One of our favourite Pinterest accounts for inspiration is the Teaching Central Channel’s Pinterest account.
If you need more help or have any tips on how you have successfully implemented social media in your school then please let us know. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Or leave a comment below!