Social media tools have vastly simplified the sharing of photos and videos with an intended audience. While popular at home, social media can make an equal impact in the classroom, especially in our relationships with parents! Consider using social media to share student success and create classroom community. Getting into the habit of snapping photos or recording short videos is a great way to give parents and the community insight into your classroom. These can be taken by you or students and shared via any social media site, such as Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook. Even tweeting small successes or student reflections during the school day is a nice way to share the day-to-day small achievements that sometimes don’t make it into parent-teacher conference A class blog is another useful tool for teachers and student bloggers to share their learning experiences.
Whatever the tool of choice, you’ll want to take a few things into consideration first:
- What social media am I allowed to use at my school?
Be sure to check your district policy regarding social media use and the age restrictions for the social media. Also, your district may block certain sites such as Facebook. In that case, consider using another social media platform or a blog.
- How can I secure parent permission to post pictures of their child?
Send a letter home to parents as early as possible, ideally with a link to your intended social media. Upload example photos of yourself and other teachers to give parents a feel for the usage! If parents are uncomfortable, consider making the Instagram or Facebook group private, or enable a password on your class site. Be sure to outline the precautions you’ve taken to ensure privacy (some of which are listed below).
- What platforms will best facilitate reaching your target audience?
Consider who you want to reach and find out what social media platforms they use. If you wish to encourage parents to interact with your classroom feed, you will have greater success meeting them where they are already.
- What platforms do you have the greatest comfort and experience using?
When trying something new in your classroom, you will likely have the greatest success starting with what you already know. If you do wish to learn something new, keep your eye out for how this learning experience can be turned into a teaching one! Perhaps your newfound knowledge of Facebook groups could turn into a class assignment to create one for their reading groups.
With your platform selected, the following are some safety guidelines for using social media in the classroom:
- Select privacy settings. Usually, by default, anyone can view your profile and posts on social media sites. Be sire tp make your posts private so that only followers you approve can see them.
- Ensure that location services for photos is off.
Your mobile devices can attach GPS location data to photos, which are then shared when posting online. Check settings frequently to ensure that this feature is off before capturing images you wish to use on social media.
- If tweeting photographs and video of students, leave off names and any identifying information.
Unless your social media stream is only shared privately, anyone online can view your posts. Give as little detail as necessary to avoid potential misuse.
To get some ideas about how educators use social media to celebrate student success, take a look at @PamelaKennedy17, @PrincipalBuddy, and @EddietheWildcat on Twitter. View Ms. Kennedy’s blog and The Park School of Baltimore's instagram. Aware of other examples? Please share them in the comments section below!