This is a position I have been in before. A large part of my role as an administrator has been to encourage the development of new teaching techniques based on digital technology and at the same time, work hard at making the learning at school more visible through the use of social media.
The move to digital transformation however does not last. Generally, the tools that we use especially to communicate with parents are not always picked up by the next person to fill the role of school administrator.
There is a systemic problem here. Administrators are not trained in the use of technology or social media. Many are still hesitant to use Facebook or Twitter and fewer still blog to or text their parent communities.
Part of the problem is that many administrators did not teach at a time where the use of digital media was becoming more prevalent in the classroom. There is also very little time spent on forming administrators as digital leaders in their schools. Many administrators are still deeply suspicious of social media.
To me, there are several basic tools that all administrators need to be using. All of these tools have been around for years and do not require a huge amount of technical expertise to use.
Facebook: Many administrators seem to have grown up at a time where Facebook simply was not trusted by educators. What they don’t realize is that most of our parents grew up with Facebook and still use it as a way to communicate with friends and family. Facebook is easily the best tool to let parents into the school to see what is going on every day. Administrators need to use Facebook to open up their schools to their parents – they deserve to know what is going on.
Twitter: Twitter needs to be used as a way to quickly communicate with parents and administrators should also be using it daily to keep up with the most recent trends in education. We have a responsibility to stay well-informed and that means developing a good list of people in the education field that are then followed on a regular basis.
Remind: This may seem like overkill, but parents choose their own way to communicate with their school. You need to use a variety of tools so that parents can choose how they want to hear from you. You don’t need to use Remind, but you need some form of text communication with parents. Remind is very easy to set up and parents are the ones who decide if they want to receive your text messages. Remind is now set up to allow parents to respond to your texts – all in a way that preserves the privacy of the user.
Blogging – you need to blog! The day of the tired out monthly newsletter is gone, thank goodness! Having said that, this does not release the administrator from communicating with parents on a regular basis on what is happening and what is coming up at school. At my last school we used Edublogs to send a weekly post to parents on what was planned for the upcoming week. All the teachers contributed to the blog with a rundown of their plans for their class. The blog was the very best tool we had. Parents and teachers read it every week to keep up to date with all academic, sports and social news coming from the school. It was an invaluable tool and one that really should be used by all administrators.
There are many other tools that can be used to engage your parent community and new ones are being created every day. My main point is that this is part of the administrator’s job in 2017. I don’t know how we can ask our teachers and our students to become adept at using digital technology when our own principals lage so far behind.
There is hope. If you are an administrator – challenge yourself – start learning today!