A blog post on Edweek’s District Dossier Blog cited the fact that a recent survey by the American Association of School Administrators (The Superintendent’s Association) found that the majority of superintendents surveyed feel that social media is an impediment to their job. As I thought about these results, I couldn’t help but wonder why so many school district leaders felt this way. I came up with two possible conclusions for this result:
Most superintendents out there are still not utilizing social media tools for communication in their school communities, never mind for their own professional learning. A district Facebook page is a perfect way to get news out to the parents in your community and brag about the latest awards and accomplishments by staff and students. Of course, a Facebook page is also a space to post pictures and videos from happenings around the school district.
A district Twitter account is another great way to share a steady flow of information from the district office. Beyond basic communication, a district with a Twitter account can create a district hashtag to share news, have discussions with stakeholders, and get a handle on any issues that may be developing in their school community. The days are well past from where we can wait for the local newspaper to tell us what the news is in our schools. Social media allows us to get the news out in real time, and it’s a two-way street. We do not have to be passive recipients of the news. We can also make our own news by sharing a steady flow of the great things that are happening in our districts.
We have the ability to control the narrative by using social media tools to our advantage. If we sit back and avoid social media then the narrative will be controlled by others. In many cases, those telling the story of our schools will be critics with a different agenda.
I know that there are frequent news stories about school communities dealing with headaches caused by the misuse of social media by students (or sometimes teachers). There’s no foolproof way to solve this problem, but embracing the power of social media is more likely to mitigate problems than avoiding and/or prohibiting the use of social media. School district leaders modeling the power of social media from the top, and leading discussions surrounding digital citizenship, are less likely to find themselves dealing with fallout from misuse of these resources. On the odd chance that these school leaders do find themselves dealing with negative uses of social media within their schools districts, they should have plenty of positive examples to fall back on which will ensure that the negative example is not all that their school community has to talk about.