As I was sitting in the drive-through line at our local don’t shop this morning, I began reading a blogpost from Eric Sheninger called Relationships are Everything, http://esheninger.blogspot.com/2017/01/relationships-are-everything.html , and it got me to thinking about my own story involving using social media. I use social media but I am by far, not a pro at it.
This is my story….
I’ve been a principal for 16 years now at three different schools. At my first school, social media was just getting started but most people, including me, didn’t participate. After a few years as social media grew, I knew about some of it, like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, but I still didn’t participate.
At my second school I had a superintendent who was dead-set against us using any forms of social media at school, even really in our personal lives. There was in incident at either our Jr. High or our elementary school and a parent got really upset at something (I don’t even remember what it was). She BLASTED the school and our superintendent on Facebook. From that point forward, he referred to Facebook as “The Evil Empire” and he thought there was nothing good that could come from social media, so he really was against it.
It was during this time that I attended a conference in the summer of 2012 and I joined Twitter. I went to a session and the presenter showed us how she used Twitter as a way to learn. This was something that was a way for me to expand my own learning opportunities, so I signed up at the end of her session. She showed me how she looked at someone’s bio, looked at who they were following, and read some of their tweets before she started following them. That is what I did as well. Soon, I had built up a pretty good group of people I was following and at the same time, many people started following me.
I went back to my district and shared what I was doing on Twitter. I got many of my teachers involved but the other administrators were slow to follow. Remember, my superintendent thought of Facebook a “The Evil Empire” and he really never got on board with what I was doing with using Twitter as my personal learning network, my PLN. He did allow me to start a Twitter account for my high school but warned me that if there was anything negative that came from it, I would have to delete the account. I could use Twitter but NOT Facebook. In reality, very few of the parents at that time followed us on Twitter. They were all on Facebook so our communication efforts via social media were very limited. I eventually started a school Instagram account, so I was able to have Twitter and Instagram but still no Facebook.
I eventually took a position at my current district and in talking with my new superintendent, he was agreeable to me using Twitter, Instagram, AND Facebook. He said just to be cautious. At this time, I was familiar with Twitter and Instagram but not Facebook. I didn’t even have a personal account, so I got signed up. I started my own personal Facebook account and also one for my school. At this time, my school had Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. My district did not have an account on any of these nor did the other two schools in my district. I kept telling them how much of a benefit it is and how we were reaching more people and sharing information and good things that were happening in our school and that they should really get started doing this.
Now our district and all three campuses have Twitter and Facebook accounts (my school is the still the only one who currently has an Instagram account) and this has been very positive for our schools and district. Even my previous school district still uses social media and even has given in to “The Evil Empire” and began using Facebook.
My personal use of social media has changed a lot since I started being connected. I have been able to learn from many other administrators from all of the country and the world. Not only have I been able to learn more, I have been able to learn more of what I wanted to learn. Rather than just going to a workshop or conference and just keeping all the information to myself, I am able to share with others. I can learn from others and I can share with others.
I have a system on how I use social media. I use Twitter for professional learning and I use Facebook just socially and for fun. I will share some personal stuff on Twitter, but not very often. For my school, I am able to connect my Twitter account to my Facebook account so I can just post one time and it posts to both. When I first started doing this, I would post to Facebook first then is automatically posted to Twitter. I have since switched this and post to Twitter first and it posts to Facebook automatically. I got this idea from my superintendent. By posting to Twitter first, when we tweet and have a photo with it, that photo will show up on the Facebook post as well. When we posted to Facebook first the photos would not show up on Twitter until you clicked on the link. And I still use Instagram but not as often.
My goal is to better utilize all forms of social media. I have a Snapchat account both personally and for my school but I don’t use it. I keep asking my daughter to teach me how to use it, but she doesn’t want to help me. I am also going to begin to utilize YouTube for my school. This is what I am working on now. Stay tuned.
Since I began my journey into school administration, a lot has changed. Unfortunately, there are those who do not want to change with the times. These are the ones who will get left behind. We must all be open to the new as well as being able to stick with what is working … just making it better. My social media journey has been fun. There is something out there every day to learn, videos to watch, new recipes to try, old friends to find, and much more.