Twitter can give a school district’s constituents—parents, community members, students and teachers—a real-time peek into the working lives of administrators and teachers and into the amazing projects students are working on daily. It is an instantaneous platform for communicating what reading material you find interesting, which teachers are doing innovative things in classrooms, displays of school spirit and of technology integration, showcases of community service and more.
According to Washington Post columnist Michael S. Rosenwald, who featured Montgomery County (Maryland) schools chief and principals engaged on Twitter in a 2011 story, “Twitter is an interesting technological outlet for administrators, allowing them an unfiltered way to communicate insights into how they manage, what makes them tick and what tactics might be useful to adapt elsewhere.”
Bottom line: Twitter can open up the doors of classrooms and offices and serve as a window into what really matters in schools–students engaged in learning. With that said, how can you form Twitter teams within your school district? What can you achieve by doing that? What is a Twitter Team, anyway?
Create niche social communication communities on Twitter based on the following areas: central office, the high school, the middle school, elementary schools, specialty areas, athletics. Each one could manage their own Twitter accounts or you could formulate specific hash tags so conversations can be aggregated about the areas people want to see. For instance, if I simply want to know athletic scores and updates, an athletics hash tag helps make that happen.
Make sure that you provide training to empower and enable building teams to utilize Twitter to help “show and tell” the district’s story through frequent updates and mobile photos. The team approach will make updating Twitter manageable and will help keep updating consistent.
Without a doubt, a big problem in schools is the sense that administrators can be unapproachable. By doing this, it can definitely enhance the image of district leadership as approachable, tech-savvy, engaged, transparent and authentic.
Provide a real-time communication channel that is specific to what is happening in each building to allow for more relevant content for followers to choose from.
Take a step further and encourage consistent “tweeting” at each building by developing an incentive program rewarding the buildings that contribute the most or earn the most followers in certain time periods.
Utilize Twitter hash tags to curate and aggregate conversations on Twitter, allowing the district to also use the tool as a listening post.
Schools should want to share the daily learning of students. There are great stories of student learning and success being missed within every community. Social media has opened up the possibility to showcase your district’s everyday stories. I happen to think Twitter is one of the best platforms to achieve this goal.