Simple Steps to Leverage Social Media for Your School
Susan M. Bearden, Director of Information Technology for the Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Melbourne, Fla., recently published a blog article “Social Media: It’s All About Relationships!” where she encourages educators and administrators not only to use social media, but to manage it themselves rather than out-sourcing, so that they can build strong relationships with parents, teachers, and media outlets in the community. That’s what her school has done, and it’s brought about fantastic results! So we asked her to continue the conversation by providing us with some tips on how educators can leverage social media for their schools. If you’re new to the whole social media/education thing, Susan’s suggestions can help get you started:
1. Focus on one social network at a time.
There are many different social networks, and it takes time to gain fluency with each one. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you try to tackle too much at once. Get comfortable with one social network first; then try another.
2.It’s OK to start by lurking!
Don’t feel like you need to actively participate in the conversation until you have gotten a feel for the etiquette and culture of a particular social network. Start by watching and learning, and jump in when you feel more comfortable.
3. Don’t be afraid.
At a conference I attended last fall, Mark Milliron said in his keynote address, “You should always be a rookie at something.” It is OK to be a rookie at social media! We all started in the same place. I was very intimidated by Twitter before I started, but a wise colleague and Twitter veteran told me, “Sometimes, you just have to jump in with both feet.” I took her advice to heart and will be forever grateful for that push. (Consider this your push!)
4. Don’t give up!
It is natural to feel uncomfortable when you are trying something new. Remember, we ask our students to do it every single day! It takes time to gain confidence and develop your social networking skills. Participating in social media can be like learning any new skill— you have to push yourself through an awkward phase to see the long-term benefits. Stick with it, even if it feels uncomfortable or confusing at first.
5. Set aside some time every day to participate.
Many people say, “I am too busy” as an excuse not to participate in social media. You don’t have to spend two hours a day on social media to realize the benefits! Commit to spending 15 minutes a day on your social network of choice for a month. You will probably find that the contacts you make and the resources you discover will save you time and energy in the long run.
6.Check out these helpful resources!
Jerry Blumengarten @cybraryman1 on Twitter, has a fabulous website for educators called Cybrary Man. On it, he has curated resource lists for every educational topic you can imagine. (And probably several that you couldn’t imagine!) He has specific pages for educators wanting to learn about different social networks that include links to tutorials, training videos, tips and tricks, and more. Check out these helpful pages to start your social media journey:
Several educators here at Educator Studio have shared creative lesson plans that revolve around social media. Check out this learning scenario to see how you could implement Google+ in your school:
If you’ve got a story about how social media has been effective in your school, let us know!