Using Technology to Improve Your School Culture

As we roll into August, the time between now and when teachers return continues to dwindle. There seems like a million and two things that still need to get done, and what seemed like plenty of time in June now becomes a daunting task to complete. OK, so maybe there is a little bit of procrastination involved here (my college professors would confirm this diagnosis…enthusiastically…). Among the many things on your current to do list, have you thought about your communication plan with your staff? How are you going to disseminate information? Resources? Gather input? Now is the time to formulate a plan on how to accomplish these things utilizing the technology that you have at your finger tips. Here is a brief list of items that I have used to promote communication with staff, parents and students. There is also a short list of things I am going to add to the repertoire this year…or at least try to add!

E-mail

This is an oldie (who would have thought), but it is a reliable communication method. I do two e-mail blasts each week. thursday I send out our
“Timberwolf Tip Sheet” (we are the Timberwolves) to parents. In it are important announcements and information that parents need to know. Each Friday I create a draft for the following week, including repeat items from the previous week. As the week goes on, I add new items as they come across my desk. Each Friday, I do the same thing for staff. The staff e-mail includes important announcements, a to do list for the following week, a list of staff birthdays for the coming week and a few other regular sections. I try to make it entertaining and humorous. The following Monday I create the draft for the next edition. I use Google Docs to create the letters and then copy and paste them into the body of the e-mail.

Twitter/Facebook

I maintain a Twitter account and a Facebook page for our community. I utilize these communication tools for brief announcements that can’t wait for the weekly newsletter, of to reinforce and remind parents of upcoming events (early dismissals, Back to School Nights). While many of the messages are repetitive, I have found that you can never send it out too many times. I also use these social media networks to post pictures and tell our story. Parents love seeing the pictures.

Instagram

We started using this last year, and the response was tremendous. Where Twitter and Facebook seems to be the realm of parents, Instagram is where we reach the kids. I try to take at least one picture each day to share on Instagram about once a month. am. I use my iPhone 6 Plus to take the pictures, and post them directly to Instagram using my personal wireless data plan (it does not take hardly any data at all). By the time the school day is over, there are dozens of “likes” on the pictures. The students are the ones viewing these (for the most part). It is just another way we can share and tell our story.

Blogs

I post to our school blog about once a month. The topics vary, but the main idea is that I am sharing information with parents in yet another way. I have done posts on fundraising and why it is important, preparing for standardized testing, and the opening of the school year. While the two way communication is minimal, I have responded to comments and answered questions through this platform.

YouTube

This is a communication method that we started using last year as well. It is more time intensive, and I am going to make some changes this year to make it a little more manageable. I try to use students as much as possible (parents don’t want to see me talk). I am going to focus on shorter more focused videos this year.

This seems like a lot, but there are so many benefits to this type of communication. Parents cannot use the “we didn’t know about it” excuse. We post information and respond to parent questions and concerns in virtual real time. This creates a culture of communication and transparency that leads to better community relationships. While it is a lot of work, it is well worth it. Now is the time to plan your social media communications for maximum benefit.

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About drellena

Principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle School in Chesterfield County, Virginia. President of the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals.
This entry was posted in Communication, Social Media, Technology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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