When principals hear the words Twitter and Facebook they cringe. Immediately, visions of excessive socialization, time wasted, and meaningless conversations in the form of updates come to mind. This is true, in many cases, when these tools are used for personal use. I am here to share ways in which principals can harness the power of these free resources to improve communications, public relations, professional growth, instruction, and create a brand presence for your school. Quite simply, social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook have improved my effectiveness and efficiency as an educational leader.
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Twitter is a microblogging platform that allows users to send free messages called "tweets" in 140 characters or less. Character limits and the ability for people to receive tweets as SMS text messages make this a powerful communications tool. Why spend money on expensive information delivery systems when you can use Twitter for free? One of the benefits of using Twitter is that you can communicate information whenever and wherever you want, making it extremely convenient. Principals can use Twitter to easily and quickly communicate the following information:
- School events (concerts, art shows, Back to School Night)
- Meetings (PTO, PTA, Athletic Boosters)
- School closings
- Live athletic scores, updates, and final results
- Student honors
- Teacher innovations
- Emergency information
As I learned from my students, many more people use the social media tool, Facebook, than use Twitter. As a result of their advice, I created a NMHS Facebook page. The same information sent out using Twitter is also placed on our NMHS Facebook Page. Using these two resources together can allow principals to take control of their public relations and deliver positive information into the hands of stakeholders. Where principals once relied on the media, press releases, and websites, we now have the ability to get out links to media articles and website updates as well as pictures and video that highlight school programs. By doing so you ultimately create a brand presence for your building, one that conveys a message of success, organization, innovation, and achievement.
Principals can also use social networking tools for professional growth and development. My journey started in March 2009 when I took a chance and began to utilize Twitter as acommunications tool. After lurking and learning for a little while, I quickly discovered this vibrant community of passionate educators actively collaborating to improve educational practices. With this new knowledge in hand I began to formulate my own Personal Learning Network (PLN) that is based on global collaboration, active discussion, acquiring and sharing of resources, consistent feedback, proven strategies, and reflection.
As my network has grown, so has my growth as an educational leader. With new ideas and strategies in hand, I am now working collaboratively with my staff to transform the teaching and learning culture of my school. Through a combination of sound pedagogy and effective technology integration, student engagement is on this rise. We are making learning relevant, meaningful, and creative!
Twitter opened my eyes to a variety of Web 2.0 tools that could be used to improve my knowledge of educational leadership, effective instructional practices, and technology integration. Principals and schools should embrace Twitter, and social media in general. As leaders, it is our job to communicate effectively, promote all programs (academic, athletic, extracurricular), cultivate innovative teaching practices, and model life-long learning while growing professionally. Using social media to accomplish these goals in the 21st Century not only makes sense, but also is time well spent.