So what did you get out of that Twitter Chat anyway?

I woke up this morning and one of the first things I did (after getting that first cup of coffee ready) was to check my Twitter feed. This is a normal occurrence on most mornings.  I noticed that one of the teachers in my school @mraspinall was already up and  tweeting away in a weekly #satchat.  I had tried my first #sunchat last weekend and quickly realized that the pace was way too fast for a Sunday morning (must not have had that first cup of coffee yet).  This morning though I felt semi-awake and started to follow along.  The topic of the chat was one that interested me – Teacher PD.  As an administrator it’s something I needed to tune into.  While I’m lurking away, I notice my Principal @icprin has now chimed in.  Still lurking I came across a tweet that caught my eye and so I started to participate.  I tweeted a few times, got retweeted a few times, got a few new followers, was added to a couple of lists and before I knew it the chat was over.

And that’s where my story begins really. When my thinking starts.  When I start reflecting,  When I start making connections.  When I start to ask myself questions.  Two cups of coffee in, and I realized I had a blog post to write.  So here I am.

I’m a member of the Ontario Principal’s Council (@opc).  OPC has been broadcasting a series of Web Conferences Supporting Principal Leadership that I’ve been participating in.  The next one is called “Using Social Media to Tell Your School Story”.  I’m really not sure what I will be learning on Tuesday but I’m really anxious to find out.  I feel that my school does a pretty good job of using social media to tell our story.  Most of our teachers are on twitter.  Some tweet from a personal account, others from a classroom account, but they’re all tweeting about the happenings in their classrooms.  I’ve witnessed some pretty amazing connections both inside and outside of the building lately – from a parent tweeting questions to her son’s class to a high school teacher down the road participating in a math activity with one of our Grade 2 classes.  All spontaneous, all unexpected, all authentic, all awesome!!

We have a school Twitter account (@icrps_sundevils), and a student run Public Relations Twitter account (@creekpr).  Our Twitter account is linked to our Facebook account.  We have a Vine account linked to our Twitter account and my Instagram account is also linked to our school Twitter account, although now I’m thinking I’d better create a school Instagram account since I seem to be using Instagram a lot lately.  We don’t have a Snapchat account, a Tumblr account, a Flickr account, or whatever else seems to be out there these days, but who knows?  Maybe we will soon.  If we see the need we sure will.

But are we telling our school story and is that an important thing to do?  To find the answer to that, I turn to some important statements that represent my school board.

 Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 8.35.07 PM

As an educator in my board, I know that what we (the collective) believe in supports our mission of “Fostering Success in Every Student Every Day” and guides our vision of “Our Students – Shaping Our World”.  And so I decided to rephrase those belief statements from my board and turn them into questions, all the while thinking about telling my school’s story using social media.  Maybe you want to do the same with your board’s belief statements?

  1. Is my school’s use of social media an investment in the future of the students in our building?  How?
  2. How does social media help all students to learn and how is social media part of quality instruction?
  3. Does my school’s use of social media embrace diversity in self, others and the world?  Does it portray a safe and caring learning environment?
  4. How do social media connections show a shared responsibility (students, staff, families, community, First Nations) in the success of our students?
  5. Does our use of social media show accountability, transparency?  Do we promote an open dialogue?
  6. How can social media help my school to be innovative and continually improve?  Does it?

I don’t know the answers to all these questions.  Maybe a few of them can be addressed on Tuesday as I talk with colleagues before, during and after the OPC Web Conference.  I hope so.

And that’s what I got out of that Twitter #satchat this morning.

4 thoughts on “So what did you get out of that Twitter Chat anyway?

  1. Lots to think about…as I step back and reflect where I was a year ago re..social media.. and where I am now….I admit I am becoming more of a “Twitter Literate” person. I find myself becoming more involved in these open conversations….still somewhat reluctant…but…with the support one gets from fellow staff members at our school (ICRPS) this IS a positive progression for people who are willing to try. Thanks Tracy

    • I appreciate your honesty Gini. I think the positive aspects of opening a window into what we do at school every day can be heard by the feedback we get from parents. I talk to parents regularly and have even received a few phone calls thanking us (all of us) for how we celebrate learning and share the great things happening via Twitter and in turn Facebook. I KNOW that many parents appreciate it.

  2. I did a Twitter workshop for my federation last week, and talked about chats with the people who came, because for me, that’s a hugely valuable source of connections, information and thought-provoking ideas. Do you think that it makes a difference that your admin is on board with this? 4 members of my staff (out of more than 30) use Twitter, to different degrees and for different reasons. Social media is still largely perceived as a scary space in my building, both by parents and teachers. Working on it, but the spirit of sharing isn’t invading yet. 🙂 Thanks for the think, and the inspiration.

    • Thanks for your feedback and questions Lisa. I agree that for many, Twitter and other forms of social media can seem scary, but honestly I think those perceptions are based on fear. I think if you’re open and transparent about what you’re doing every day (and we are accountable to our public), then the fear can be easily overcome. I also think supportive admin who model this for their teachers is key, and I truly believe that administrators have an obligation to “tell our school story”. We had an interesting experience last week at our Kindergarten registration. We used an exit survey filled out by attending parents, to get some feedback about their registration experience. One of the questions asked how they heard about registration. The overwhelming response was through social media. We have parents of students who aren’t even at our school yet who are following our Twitter and Facebook accounts. We have an obligation to meet the needs of those parents. And as younger parents become members of our school community, parents who are way more ‘social media’ savvy than many of us…we’d better get with the game. One of those parents also asked when his ‘new to JK’ son could start bringing his device to school. Currently we start at about Grade 3, but in the future, who knows? We need to be open to change and to trying new ways of doing things. What do you think?

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