There are plenty of articles out there about writing your own narrative on social media, so I plan to write about it from my own experiences and perspective at our school site. Our social media footprint was inspired by our school’s visit to the CUE conference in Palm Springs a few years ago. I attended a session on social media in schools called, Building a 21st Century School and How it Relates to You presented by Daniel Ching and Mike Niehoff, and was incredibly motivated to implement some of their strategies and digital mindset at Woodbury.
For a few reasons, I felt that a positive digital footprint was not only an incredibly cool idea, but something that Woodbury would truly benefit from. Being a former student of Woodbury (previously known as El Camino Real), and then returning as a teacher, my observation was that there were many extraordinary things happening at the school that parents, community members, and other stakeholders, just weren’t aware of. Each and every day there were remarkable activities occurring within the four walls of the classrooms; teachers making a difference in the lives of children and parents going above and beyond to contribute their time, talent, and dedication to our school, but only a few stakeholders were knowledgeable of all this. Our community has many dual income households, so it is not always feasible for parents to be on campus and stay informed on what is happening at the school and in their child’s classroom. I saw social media as an opportunity to change all that. Bringing social media to our school site was exciting, but also a little terrifying, since it hadn’t been done in our district at a scale in which we wanted to do it. There were some concerns and unknowns, but we decided to go for it. We felt the benefits far outweighed the risks. We decided to write our own narrative. And it has paid off tremendously.
We started small with Facebook, then Twitter, and Instagram, and now we have Pinterest and our own YouTube channel. I am so proud of the narrative we have written for ourselves and the reputation we have developed because of our ability to share how proud we are of our students, teachers, parents, and community. One of my favorite payoffs was actually completely unexpected. The staff’s enthusiasm to share fun lessons, student presentations, class projects, etc., was welcomed and I enjoyed the invitations to visit the classrooms and watch students shine. I would then share these moments on Facebook and Instagram. This quickly turned into teachers creating private classroom Instagram accounts and these have been a huge success. Parents love the Instagram accounts since it offers a quick glimpse into their child’s day. Creating our own narrative has been very exciting and has had a major impact on our school’s positive culture. We have always been a close staff, but social media has strengthened our community. With a large school it is easy to not know all of the staff members or know about some of the grade level projects, presentations, and plays, but with our school and classroom social media accounts, we now have insight into what is going on in the classroom next door, down the hall, and in the other wing. Teachers have developed an even greater appreciation for each other, new connections have been made, and we are inspiring each other with our own narratives. I look forward to the narratives that haven’t been written yet. I love the quote, “Life is a blank canvas. It is up to you to paint your own picture.” Our picture is just getting started.