6 years ago, I had virtually no social media presence. Oh, how the times have changed. Twitter came first for me in 2011, school web pages next, and then finally Facebook in 2016. I now manage 3 Facebook accounts, a school website page, a blog page, and two Twitter accounts. Over that time, I’ve picked up a few hints that I think can be helpful to fellow educators.
1. If your school district has a social media policy, know it and follow it. This overrides anything written below.
2. Promote your classroom, school, and school district. I feel like educators have an obligation to do so. Social media allows us to share the positives happening in our schools each and every day. The rest of the media tells their side of school all the time so why wouldn’t those actually in school each and every day, tell theirs? Get over the “I don’t want to brag” perspective and share all the positives you can.
3. Have your personal account open to others. Don’t block them. I know that my perspective on this tip is not the common one. George Couros once told me, “if you are going put something on your personal account you don’t want certain others to see, maybe you shouldn’t be putting it on there.” Leave your twitter account open, accept Facebook requests from parents, and share the story of education along with what you post personally. Those interested are going to find ways to get information about you anyway, why not let it be what YOU choose? This also goes hand in hand with #2. If you are telling a great story to your 113 followers, it’s not going to have a very big impact.
4. Use Twitter as your “professional learning network.” It is my quickest and easiest go-to for quick information, ideas from peers, and numerous resources. Build your network and knowledge base with proper follows. The lack of doing so is the #1 social media error I often see with young educators.
5. Stay away from these types of posts:
- “I can’t wait for spring break”
- Posts that hint to disagreement with colleagues, administrators, the district
- “This year is almost over. Thank God, my students are crazy”
- “I can’t believe it’s only Monday. What a week it’s going to be”
- Countdowns of any kind. Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring, end of the year
Even if the sentiment is genuine at the moment, it’s not what parents want to hear or the picture you want to paint. It’s also no professional. I don’t want my child to be in a classroom where the teacher sends the message on social media that they are on “easy street” the last 2 weeks as they countdown to the last day. It sends the wrong message for yourself, your school, the district, and our profession.
6. Finally, more for young educators than anyone else, don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your superintendent to see. Your social media presence is essentially an online portfolio. It will be the first thing prospective employers check, probably right in front of you while you walk in for the first interview. You get to control what their first impression is. You get to pick if that first image is you bonging a beer or you working with a group of students as their student teacher. Sooner rather than later, understand and embrace that.