When Will I Ever Use This in the “REAL” World?

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Image Credit: Upsplash

The most pressing question any student asked a teacher is, “When will I ever use this in the real world”?

I remember this question being asked many times when I was a student. I remember this question being asked, to me, when I was a high school teacher. I’ve heard it asked by students as I observed teachers. If I could read minds, I’m sure some of my students asked the same question early on when I started as an adjunct professor. It’s been asked for decades and answered in various ways to impress upon students the importance of what was happening in the classroom and how that should, could, would translate in life outside of school.

In today’s classroom the answer to this question is easier to answer, if we are properly embedding educational technology into the learning environment. If we are using desktop computers, laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, smartphones, Google Classroom, Microsoft 365, or other digital devices and cloud based tools in some aspect of our classrooms then the answer to the age-old question is: EVERYDAY!

We use technology every single day outside of the classroom from an ATM machine, to a scanner at a store, to ordering items online, and much more. If we connect the learning that needs to occur in the classroom with the technology that will be used in our society in perpetuity then the question becomes irrelevant because what needs to be learned and how it is learned are meshed in “real” world experiences.

Using educational technology as a part of the learning environment empowers students to take control of their learning. It allows them to explore topics beyond the standard textbook examples. And it provides them opportunities to see how the classroom lesson translates into the “real” world. But more importantly the “real” world and the classroom become one.

3 Ways to Be a Future Ready Leader

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future_readyThe recent release of Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education, the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDoE) 2016 National Education Technology Plan (NETP), provides educators across the United States with an opportunity to identify where the USDoE feels we need to go with the implementation and use of educational technology, and evaluate our own abilities and role in this technological evolution. One thing is obvious in the NETP, for education to be Future Ready, we need leaders at all levels of our field, of all different titles, who are formal and informal leaders, if we are to truly become Future Ready.

Here are 3 ways to be a Future Ready leader:

  1. Create a shared vision – It’s essential for the infusion of educational technology to be successful there needs to be a shared vision. What many believe is that this shared vision must be top down. Although this is vital for large programmatic change, a shared vision can be developed in a classroom, in a department, or a school. Developing a shared vision at one of these other levels can be the motivation for larger systemic change. Do not underestimate the power of a shared vision at any level.
  2. Identify ways technology can personalize learning – Why is there such a push to implement technology into education? Well there are many answers to this question. One of them should be a movement toward personalize learning. When we say personalized learning, we are talking about student learning and staff learning. Personalizing learning through educational technology takes time and effort but has substantial learning potential for students and educators. Future Ready leaders will seek out technology that can be used to personalize learning for students and staff.
  3. Reimagine professional development – Whether you organize, provide, or attend professional development as an education, being a Future Ready leader means we need to reimagine how our learning occurs. Future Ready leaders will organize, lead, model, and provide professional development that is hands-on, provides a growing amount of personalization (see above), and provides attendees with something they can use immediately after the professional development session. There are many exciting changes happening in education due to the implementation of educational technology and professional development should be included in that list. No change will be sustainable without proper and focused professional development.

By creating a shared vision, identifying ways technology can personalize learning, and reimagining professional development educators can develop into Future Ready leaders. Are you Future Ready?

3 Things I Learned in 2015 and 3 Things I Hope 2016 Will Bring to Education

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Upsplash_Pic_by_Mikhail_Pavstyuk

by Mikhail Pavstyuk – upsplash.com

At the end of each year we look back in review. Sometimes our look back is a little nostalgic and other times we are surprised by what has transpired. But we always look forward to the next year in hopes of something better. 2015 was an incredible year for educators, educational technology, and moving our profession forward. Here’s a look at three things I learned in 2015 and three things I hope 2016 will bring to education.

3 things I learned in 2015:

  1. Google Apps for Education is a fluid, every changing learning environment for educators and students… I’m a huge supporter of what Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is doing to improve instruction and learning. But even as a supporter, I am impressed with how fluid this system is and how often Google is providing updates. All of this is very positive and bodes well for both Google and connected educators. Their commitment to improving and providing new resources to connected educators is exciting. However, as connected educators, we need to continually stay on top of these changes and incorporate them into our use of GAFE. 2015 was awesome for GAFE and connected educators who use it. I’m not going to project what 2016 can be, I’m just waiting for the next update!
  2. There’s an app for that… New apps and Chrome extensions come out daily. There are too many to stay on top of and use. However, during 2015 there were many times I needed an app or extension for some project, activity, or presentation I was working on. A simple search produced a new app to try. For me 2015 was an appealing year to find and learn new apps and extensions. If you are a connected educator you need to take time to find and try new apps and extensions. Then share them with your PLN and colleagues.
  3. The number of connected educators using educational technology and social media for their own learning and betterment is still small but growing… I value my PLN and what they have taught me over the years, but what has become obvious is that we, connected educators, are few in number compared to the total number of educators around the world. So many educators are still not connected or interested in connecting. However, I noticed in 2015 new faces and voices in my PLN. For the concepts of educational technology and social media use for educators to survive we need new ideas, new concepts, and new approaches, which means we need new educators to connect.

3 things I hope 2016 will bring to education:

  1. The end of an all or none mentality when it comes to educational change… For more than a decade we dealt with an all or none mentality in education. Policy change, program implementation, performance dictates have stunted creativity, individuality, and the uniqueness of individual learners and teachers. My hope is that 2016 will be the year that education begins to look at learning and teaching more on an individual, personalized level and less on serving the masses. There have been a number of positive steps heading in this direction, but I encourage all educators to continue to push for change that improves the learning of every student, and the instructional practices of individual teachers, not a one size fits all.
  2. More opportunities for educators to infuse educational technology into their instructional practices… The use of educational technology as an instructional practice is growing but some educators do not know where or how to begin. Educators need more opportunities to see and experience best practices in the infusion of educational technology in instructional practice. To do this, the role models in infusing educational technology (you know who you are) need to use the technology to reach out to those who need examples. Connected educators need to create the opportunities for all educators to see how to infuse educational technology into instructional practices.
  3. A commitment by local, state, and federal policy makers to incorporate the ideas, views, and expertise of practicing educators before change is proposed… If we truly expect education to evolve when it comes to educational technology and the betterment of our educational system then we need local, state, and federal policy makers to collaborate with educators to hear our ideas, listen to our views, and experience our expertise as practicing educators before change is proposed and enacted. Let’s look at 2016 as a more collaborative year for policy makers and educators. Effective and essential educational change will not happen unless all parties are at the table together.

As 2015 draws to a close we see tremendous change in our profession. This change is leading to unimaginable potential in 2016. However, this is only possible if connected educators continue to move educational technology forward, demonstrate its abilities, and set the example of how it can be used.

Happy New Year!

The Connected Superintendent

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On December 2, 2015 I had the privilege to speak to 45 superintendents and central office administrators on the topic of being The Connected Superintendent. We covered a lot of ground and I demonstrated a ton of apps and extensions in our three hour session. Below are some of the key points from the presentation.

Many will ask why superintendents should be connected through social media and use educational technology (EdTech). Well the answer is not that complex. We are experiencing a generational issue in education and around the world. Today’s Gen X and Millennial parents want information at their fingertips, which means on their phones, and our Generation C students are the connected generation who use a smart phone, tablet, laptop or other electronic device like we used pencils in school. But all this contentedness has resulted in a melding of generations which has produced what I term the NOW Generation.

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I’ve explored this concept in a blog post called Is Social Media Creating the NOW Generation? The bottom line is figuring out how today’s superintendents address this change in society. The answer is to become a connected superintendent.

Just as important as it is to be a connected superintendent it is also important to establish rules for being connected. My four basic rules for being a connected superintendent and the use of EdTech are:

  1. It must have the potential to improve student learning
  2. It must have the potential to improve instruction
  3. It must make us better educators
  4. It must make us more efficient in our educational responsibilities

But the commitment to being connected and playing by the above rules will create a host of issues for those contemplating connecting and integrating EdTech into their practice. These include:

  1. Time – yes, everyone says they don’t have enough time. I know I could use more of it. But go to #3 and #4 above for my answer.
  2. Confidentiality – everyone is concerned about what is put on line. We all should be concerned but we should NEVER put anything confidential up on line. See #3 above.
  3. Professionalism – being a connected superintendent is a professional opportunity. The stigma of being unprofessional because you are on Twitter, LinkedIn or another social media platform no longer exists. The list of connected superintendents grows every day. It is also a great way to address #1, #2, #3, and #4 – well you get it by now.

In the presentation, I discussed and demonstrated how being a connected superintendent provides an opportunity for:

Communication with Stakeholders – This can be done with Twitter, Facebook, or another social media service. It provides a glimpse into the school day, provides images of events and activities, and gives the NOW Generation information at their finder tips.

Community Engagement – Bring interest in to what is happening in your schools by starting a hashtag. We used #ChargersontheRoad to show charger pride during the summer as our students and families traveled. They sent us pictures of where they were and we would pin it to a Google map. We also use #ChargerPride in posts to highlight great things happening in the classrooms. Joe Sanefelippo uses #GoCrickets. Find something that works for you.

Learning – Through our district YouTube Channel, Tech Tuesday Tips, and our PD Academy we stress the importance of EdTech in the classroom for learning and sharing. I also shared the value of Voxer for superintendents to connect with colleagues around the country and beyond.

Organizing / Efficiency – There are a ton of apps and Chrome extensions available for superintendents to use that will help organize daily events and make us more efficient in what we do. I shared Google Keep to create shared agendas and lists, Highly to highlight on-line text and send that text to others, digital Sticky Notes to post on your computer (be careful, these are addicting), Get Pocket to save articles, QR Coding for recruitment, Jing to grab images, Doodle to organize a meeting event, and live binders to reduce paper use. There are so many more out there but these are a few of my favorites that I personally use.

Towards the end of the session I discussed the value of being a connected educator and advocating for our profession. We need to understand that:

At no other time in our profession have we had access to so many with the opportunity to positively advocate for our profession at any time, any date, or any place.

There are many avenues for advocacy as a connected educator. They include joining #ASuperDay, being part of the EdCamp movement, or joining a Google Community. But if you do not connect then you limit your ability and chances to improve education. It’s my belief that this isn’t fair to the students, staff, and community we represent as their superintendent.

The bottom line is that today’s superintendent should connect for his/her own learning, to improve the instruction in the schools he/she leads, to enhance the learning of the students, and ultimately to positively advocate for our profession, our students, and our teachers.

Innovate

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On Thursday, October 22, 2014 I had the honor and privilege to give my first Ignite presentation. If you are not familiar with an Ignite presentation, it’s a 5 minute mini-keynote that includes 20 slides that automatically transition every 15 second, whether you are ready or not. It’s an exciting, nerve racking, fun experience and I thank Matt Mingle, the President elect for NJASCD, for offering me the opportunity to participate.

Nine presenters gave Ignite sessions and each was outstanding. The theme was Innovate and the presenter could take the theme in whatever direction he / she wanted for the five minutes presentation. Here are my notes of what I prepared to present. I hope what I actually presented, because I went without notes, was close to the message I tried to convey.

SLIDE 1

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Good afternoon.

I’m Scott Rocco – the proud Superintendent of Spotswood Public Schools and a proud Public School Educator.

Today like others I’m talking about the word Innovate.

And how this word…

This concept…

This practice…

MUST be part of our schools.

SLIDE 2

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For far too long the mere thought of the word innovate in conjunction with education was thought to be completely illogical.

Forget mentioning the word, the concept, the practice.

Why would we innovate when we knew… really… we knew how to educate students.

SLIDE 3

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Innovation in education involved blackboards and chalk. If you were really daring you included an overhead projector or a filmstrip.

Innovation in education was limited to a moment… a dead end opportunity.

SLIDE 4

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As a student my limited opportunity was when a teacher dared to innovate with a Radio Shack TRS-80 computer and the one time I completed my work early. I had a chance to go to a room and play with one of  four computers because I was able to complete some work before other students.

That brief moment sticks with me because it was lost opportunity… a lost chance to motivate and engage a student. A lost chance to truly innovate in a time when innovation was not a reality.

SLIDE 5

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Then something happened in education at some moment in time by some educator who dared..

Dared to be innovative… I don’t know what the Tipping Point was, what pushed us over the hill

BUT WHO CARES…

SLIDE 6

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We are here now… we are in the beginning stages of an era of educational innovation that is limited only by our ability to imagine and try.

SLIDE 7

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When something new comes around the first thing people ask is:

Who is responsible for this innovation in education?

The responsibility to innovate is ours as educators. It’s the responsibility of everyone of us in this room today to be innovators in education.

SLIDE 8

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We need educators who will question why we do what we do and how we can do it better.

We need educators who can innovate learning and teaching and education.

Every educator who wants to be an innovator can do so but those who choose can also be innovation leaders.

SLIDE 9

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As teachers, supervisors, principals, and superintendents it’s our job to imagine and try… to Innovate

We need innovation leaders who can see 4 walls, desktop computers in rows and a whiteboard and transform it into a global learning opportunity.

But innovation leaders in our classrooms, our schools and our districts must also help others to imagine and try to innovate

SLIDE 10

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As innovation leaders we need to help:

Nurture and foster and support and encourage the learning environment that makes it possible for others to image, try, and innovate.

We must create a trusting environment where innovation can be tried and fail but tried again.

SLIDE 11

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But what is innovation in education?

Is it all technology?

Is it all about devices and wifi?

Is it all about doing things differently because someone asks you?

SLIDE 12

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No… innovation is a mindset.

It’s about thinking, and trying things that are different from the way you did before.

It’s about exploring options and engaging students at new levels.

It’s about encouraging connections and collaboration where they never existed before.

SLIDE 13

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In my office since I was a Middle School VP sits the poster on the right from Apple that says Think Different.

It helped spark a generation of computer users.

What if we as educators adopted the same concept and developed the motto

Think Innovatively and had a similar poster.

SLIDE 14

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When we talk educational technology many immediately think innovation.

So we can easily make the Think Innovatively connection.

By we must remember that truly innovative thinking in educational technology means what we do with educational technology is more important than what technology we use.

SLIDE 15

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But let’s go beyond educational technology

And let’s truly Think Innovatively about education and what we can do in an innovative educational world.

Let’s think beyond the obvious choices.

SLIDE 16

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When we Think Innovatively in instructional practices we need to be willing to go beyond our comfort zones.

We need to look at what is possible outside of what has always been done.

To Think Innovatively in our instructional practices means we aren’t teaching to the top, middle, or bottom of the students we serve… We are teaching to each of our students.

SLIDE 17

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When we Think Innovatively in Educational Leadership we need to be the role models.

We need to talk the talk and walk the walk.

To Thinking Innovatively as an Educational Leader means being innovative and supporting innovation.

Even when you’re not sure what it is or where it’s going just be excited and happy people are trying.

SLIDE 18

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To Thinking Innovatively when it comes to our students means understanding how our students learn, when they learn, and what they really need to learn.

The students we teach today, more than any other time in the past, are ready to innovate.

Who are we to hold them back?

SLIDE 19

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Steve Jobs who spent a lifetime Thinking Innovatively and changed the world.

Think about what a small group, a dozen, a hundred, everyone in this room, or a thousand educators could do if we all agreed to…

SLIDE 20

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THINK INNOVATIVELY!

3 Next Steps to Nurture EdTech Growth

Photo by Nick Harris as posted on Flickr.com and reprinted with permission through Creative Commons on Flickr.com. Photo has not been modified. Creative Commons Legal Code: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode Photo: http://bit.ly/1D0pQsB

Photo by Nick Harris posted on Flickr.com and reprinted with permission through Creative Commons on Flickr.com. Photo has not been modified.

Over the last few years the seeds of educational technology and social media in education (referred to as EdTech from this point forward) have been planted. Educators have nurtured the early stages of its growth (exploring and modeling), and the roots have begun to dig in (integration). But now what?

Even with the vast majority of people now agreeing that education needs to integrate technology and social media into schools, learning, and teaching there is still this unclear path of what is next. It’s as if the EdTech planted seed was of an unknown origin, and we now wait to see what blooms. We can’t wait. This isn’t an experiment in growing something unknown, and then deciding if we should keep it or throw it away. We don’t have the time or ability to wait and see what grows. Instead we need to nurture what has been planted and help it grow into an educationally self-sustaining change in the way we see, appreciate and do education. Here are 3 steps to nurture that EdTech growth so desperately needed:

  1. Accept and Create Asyncronous Learning Opportunities

One of the issues that must still be addressed as EdTech moves forward is identifying valid and effective learning opportunities that integrate technology. These integrated learning opportunities change the learning dynamic for students, teachers, and organizations. We need to accept the change and work to create the opportunities that show the value of the change.  This change is called asynchronous learning and it is a reality. Once this is accepted, asynchronous learning actually becomes an essential part of the EdTech integration movement. Think about it. Anytime, anywhere learning for everyone! It’s a staggering and exciting thought. But it needs to be accepted and the opportunities created for EdTech to be fully integrated into education.

  1. Continue to Explore, Model and Integrate New EdTech

If you have been at the forefront of EdTech advocacy, why stop? Things are changing minute by minute in the EdTech world. We can’t be up on every single thing that is changing but we can still be part of the change. As much as we learned in the beginning to be an EdTech advocate, we must continue to learn so we can continue the advocacy. But there is a second reason we must continue to explore and learn. So we also maintain relevance in the EdTech world. What was advocated for just a few years ago may no longer be relevant or of educational use so we must continue to explore. Once our exploration identifies new EdTech we need to model its use so others can see what is being used and how it can be used in our profession. Finally, we need to integrate new EdTech daily into our personal and professional lives. There needs to be a concerted effort to continually explore, model, and integrate new EdTech in education by everyone who believes in this movement. Otherwise this change movement will stagnate and eventually die.

  1. Stop Trying to Take the Human Out of EdTech

Yes, new technology is being created and implemented daily, and yes this technology is creating asynchronous learning environments for education. But who do you think is creating the learning and the new tech? People. Not just people, but educators. The integration of EdTech should not be approached with the intent of reducing or eliminating people from education. Instead EdTech should be implemented to connect people who would never have the opportunity to connect without technology. It should create learning environments where people learn from experts in the field, in the classroom, and in the laboratories. EdTech should focus on how the technology can enhance what educators have done for centuries. Technology is not human, it’s a tool to help humans, so let’s stop trying to take the human out and find ways to enhance the human experience with EdTech.

So much progress has been made in the development and integration of EdTech in education thanks to the hard work of many educators. However difficult those early years were with planting the seeds of EdTech the next few will be equally, if not more, challenging as what we planted sprouts from the ground and grows. It won’t grow on its own. It needs those that were the early advocates to continue their advocacy, and it needs new advocates who will continue to push EdTech to a new level. The three steps above will help nurture EdTech growth if you are part of the process. Be a part of the process and let’s see what grows. I have a feeling it may be something beyond our wildest hopes!

Note: I originally posted this blog on edsocialmedia.com but it’s still relevant and want to open up the ideas to further discussion.

3 Ways to Turbo Charge Your School’s Twitter Account

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By Jonathan Valesquez & printed with permission from Unsplash

printed with permission from Unsplash

If your school and/or district does not have a Twitter account, you are missing out on a vital method of communication with your students, staff, and stakeholders. In this era of instantaneous information Twitter serves as an excellent avenue for quickly communicating key pieces of information to your school and/or district community.  Whether you are just starting or have already established a Twitter account here are three ways to turbo charge it to increase connections and validate its place in your array of communication methods:

  1. Have a great description and picture for your Twitter handle. Notify people about who or what your Twitter account is all about. Is it for your school? Or is it a district account? People want to know where the information is coming from. In addition to a description of who the account is connected to, be sure to put some type of picture associated with the connection. People will connect with your brand faster than your description so be sure to include it as an image. Here are two examples (click on each to make it bigger):

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  1. Connect your Twitter feed to your website. For me there are three reasons for connecting your Twitter feed to the district website:
    1. It makes your website relevant because the Twitter feed is updated in real time with current information. In this era of instantaneous information a school or district website can become irrelevant or extinct because it lacks relevant and updated information. I wrote about this a while back on EdSocialMedia.com in the post Back from the Brink of Extinction.
    2. It connects a whole new audience to your Twitter feed. Believe it or not, there are people who do not have Twitter accounts. Twitter, in its company facts, states that as of June 30, 2015 there were 315 million monthly users worldwide. With a world population of about 7.2 billion, that’s small portion of the total world population. Those who don’t have a Twitter account will simply go to the website to see what was posted.
    3. Some people have such an active Twitter feed that it is too busy to find the information you are posting. Instead of sorting or having to scroll through their feed, they just go to the website to see what you have posted lately. This is a convenience for people who have complex and busy Twitter feeds and lives.

Here is the Twitter feed on my district’s website:

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  1. Retweet information from your staff and co-curricular groups. As a school or district Twitter account, you have a responsibility to not only generate your own information but retweet information from staff, co-curricular groups and other school organizations. This expands both their and your followers, and provides a well-rounded view of the activities and events happening in the school or district.

Turbo charge your Twitter account with the above three ideas. You will quickly see an increase in followers and retweets, and build a relevant and engaging Twitter account for your school and / or district.

Have another idea, leave a comment below.

The 4 Things Your School’s Social Media Feed Needs to Include

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Printed with permission of Unsplash.com

Printed with permission of Unsplash.com

The use of social media in schools and school districts has gone from a novel way of spreading news and information to an essential method of communicating with school stakeholders. However, those who are in charge of the school’s social media feed don’t always include the most important items.  As a result, they don’t draw the followers and interest that should be present in the social media feed. Here are four things your school’s social media feed need to assure you are maximizing connections with your stakeholders:

  1. Diversification of posted information: Lots of people want to know about the next game or the upcoming days off from school. But by just posting just one type of event you are limiting your audience and telling them that other things happening in the school or district are not as important. Post information on a Family Science Night, fundraisers happening in the schools, art festivals, concerts, and student successes. One of my most popular posts this year was the Top 10 Graduates from the Class of 2015. Based on class rank, we developed a press release posted on social media that provided each student’s picture, GPA, where they are going to college, and a favorite memory from high school, along with other information. We promoted their four years of hard work and our stakeholders appreciated reading about our students’ success.
  2. Visuals: Information is important and sometimes you need to just put it out there in written form. But think about it, visuals in both picture and video form make a bigger impression and are more engaging. This past winter I experimented with pushing out school closing notification due to snow through a picture with the information on it. It received a lot of favorites and retweets. But I also know this is partly because I closed school, which is a huge event for students! You can also put up brief videos of events, the school musical (be careful of copyright issues for music and script), and other live event activities. People like to see as much as they like to read information.

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  1. School, district and/or community pride on display: Nothing connects quicker with stakeholders than school or district pride. Our students, staff, parents, and community should be, and often are, proud of our schools. Those moments of pride need to be captured and sent out through social media to the community. We have promoted community service, school spirit days, pep rallies, and other events that show the great pride our school community has throughout the school year. One example was when we joined the townships social media effort to get them a grant to improve one of our local parks. Another example was after the senior prank, which was very respectfully done by our seniors, two seniors took it upon themselves the night before graduation to put a post-it with a positive message on every single, yes every one, locker in the high school. This showed great pride in our school and was well received by all. I took a picture and posted it for our community to see. As the superintendent I was proud of these students and their “last act” as seniors, and the school wanted the community to know about this random act of awesomeness.

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  1. Timely information: When you agree to start a social media feed for a school or a district you look for information and material to post in the beginning. Once you establish the feed as something that is reliable and connected to stakeholders you have more than enough information, and sometimes too much, information that needs to be posted. However, the information is only good if it is posed in a timely fashion. Reporting on an event that happened a month ago will not create the buzz and interest you want in your social media feed. And for bigger activities and events timeliness means doing promotional and lead-up social media posts to create interest. Timing is important for most everything in life but vital to the validity of social media feeds in education.

By diversifying your social media posts, using visuals instead of all written text, displaying school and district pride, and providing timely information you will validate your social media feeds and build a following that finds value in the information you provide.

Are there other essentials not listed here? Post them in the comments section.

3 Things #EdAdmin Should Do with Social Media to Start the New School Year

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Schools all over the country are opening their doors to another school year. Prior to opening day, a lot of work goes into getting the schools, curricula, and staff ready. Our school social media resources should be no different. If you haven’t given your social media feeds a thought since the close of last school year, then you are not completely ready for the new school year.

Here are three things administrators should do with social media to start the new school year:

  1. Review your social media feeds. It’s important to check on who is following, re-tweeting, re-posting, sharing, and if there are comments from the summer. I periodically review who is following the district twitter account to assure there are no spammers. I’ll report and block spammers and any spam tweets.
  2. Identify new images and pictures to use in the coming year. Images and pictures need to be part of a school’s social media feed. They help tell the full story of the great things happening in our schools. However, we often go back to our “stock” images and photos because they are easily accessible. In the week, leading up to the first day of school, I will take photos of the schools (inside and out), practices, events, and new teacher orientation. Some of the better pictures (I’m not a great… ok, I’m average at best… photographer) will make it up to our website. Others will be used on our Twitter and Facebook pages. People love to see what’s happening in our schools more than reading about what is happening.
  3. Create a buzz for the new school year. This is an exciting time of year. I’m starting my 22nd year in education so that means that I’ve been a student or educator for 38 years. Even 38 years later I still get excited, and a little nervous, for the first day of school. As administrators we need to think about our students, staff, and parents. They are excited and, probably a little, nervous too. For some of them it will be their first day in school, or in your school. For others they are starting their last year in your school, or in their educational careers. Get them ready. Create a buzz. I’ve tweeted throughout the summer but started discussing the next school year with this tweet:

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And started the countdown to create more buzz with this tweet:

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As school and district administrators we need to get our schools, curricula, supplies, and staff ready for a new school year. But modern day summer preparations also involve preparing our social media feeds to start the year too. Prepare them now so they are ready to open the year and so your stakeholders will know where to get great information and images about what’s happening in your schools.

How are you preparing your social media feeds for the next school year? Leave a comment to help others prepare.

Find the Time

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Photo reprinted with permission by Unsplash. Photo by Sonja Langford

Photo reprinted with permission by Unsplash. Photo by Sonja Langford

Recently, I published a blog post titled The Secret to EdTech No One Talks About, and it must have struck a chord because the post came up as a comment in a recent #satchat conversation. Specifically, an educator during #satchat said that she was not “sure there’s time for Pr/Admin to ”Become completely informed about & comfortable w/ ed tech being used”.” Basically, she was questioning if principals and administrators have the time to learn about and become familiar with educational technology. This is a valid comment and I thank the educator who posted it for bringing the issue up because this tweet made me think about what always ends up being a concern in learning: TIME.

To do anything in life we need time. Time to learn. Time to do something.  Time to reflect. Time to improve. And to do anything well we need MORE time. We know this because we battle time in everything we do. And when we want to make a change, time is always a concern. So let’s take the time argument out of our list of excuses to do new things in education.

Let’s agree to find the time necessary to do what is needed in education.

Let’s agree to find the time to be a better educator.

Let’s agree to find the time to learn something new.

Let’s agree that time, although not our friend, will never be our excuse as a professional educator.

By now you’re thinking, “This guy doesn’t know how busy I am” or “He must have a lot of time on his hands”. No I don’t (to both statements), but I do know what it’s like to use time as an excuse and to have that excuse used on me.

So here’s 3 things we can all do to find the time needed to be better professional educators:

  1. Collaborate with other educators. Everything we do in education does not need to be independently done or “original work”. There’s value and time saved when we agree to collaborate. The next time you need to accomplish something, look for collaborators to help you.
  2. Ask for Help. There’s something inherently wrong with asking for help in education. I don’t know why, but people often equate it with weakness. This is so far from the truth. Asking for help is an effective and efficient way of achieving a goal and saving time.
  3. Find time suckers and stop them. We all do things that waste time. Sometimes it is procrastination and other times it is avoidance behavior. Identify what you do to waste time and commit to stop doing it to save your valuable time.

In education time is our scarcest commodity. We can never make more of it and we never have enough of it. So we have to maximize what time we have available to us. But we need to commit to our profession to not use it as an excuse for not doing what we need to do to be better educators.

What do you do to maximize your time? Leave a suggestion in the comments section.

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