There are times in the life of a school site administrator when things happen that are so goofy it feels like I’m being pranked: the knock on the door to interrupt a meeting with the news that every toilet on campus was overflowing just hours before back to school night, the report that someone had made a full sized origami sword, and word that students were unloading a life sized horse statue in the parking lot have all interrupted me in the last few years. All turned out to be true, but they’re hard to believe until you look the golden horse in the eye.
It’s a little like that online too, with the idea that folks actually read this blog and look at my tweets an odd notion, at least until I meet them in person. Sure I get the occasional comment on a post and the retweet of a photo or link, but the disconnect that exists can be a tough gap to bridge.
A parent helped me see the impact of my social media outreach at one of the first Coffee with the Principal meetings I held this fall. She came up to me at the end of the morning and said “I feel like I know you. I read your blog!”
I was happy to see a smile with the introduction. It’s always my hope that anyone reading can get a sense of who I am and where I work as they’re getting my take on any particular educational topic. We talked for a bit and I realized how important it was for me, in my first year as principal at Diegueño Middle School, to work hard to be more than a guy in a tie. Face to face meetings are great for this, and increasingly so too is having an online presence where I can give people a chance to know who this fellow is who is working with their kids.
It’s not just parents, of course, who have access to social media, and about a week ago the work that I do to show off the great teaching and learning going on at Diegueño was validated when a teacher from another campus told me: “You have such a great school culture.”
My first thought was, yes I do. My next thought was, you haven’t ever visited Diegueño. I asked her why she said that and she told me that she’d been watching my tweets and read my “Dad Magic” post. “There’s such a great energy at Diegueño,” she told me. “You can just tell.”
To show off that energy, I try my best to tweet every day, posting a photo or short description of what’s happening on campus. This has led to more than a few students who follow my Twitter feed, and even a handful who see me walk in to their science class and point to the lab they’re working on with the refrain: “Tweet us!” There is a great energy on campus, and it’s a pleasure to be able to share it with the world.
Social media allows me to celebrate my school in a way I couldn’t have a generation ago. In seconds I can have a photo of a great student project up in the twittersphere. In minutes I can have a short post on something fantastic I saw in a classroom. Over time I can help stitch together the individual squares of what’s happening on campus and develop the quilt that shows the beauty of my school.
Of course there are still days I feel like I’m being pranked.
Just a few weeks ago I checked on the stats for my blog. I don’t do it every day, but occasionally I like to get a sense of how many folks a looking at the posts. One feature of the report is where the views are coming from, mostly the US, with an occasional Canadian curious about US education, and handful of folks from Mexico.
When I looked that morning, however, the report had me puzzled and thinking of who might have the wherewithal to pull together the joke I was looking at: 16 views, 6 from Turkey.
Now I’m not going to say that my blog wouldn’t appeal to Turkish educators, but I will admit that Istanbul Unified School District isn’t my target audience.
As I tell my school’s story I do well to keep my target audience in mind and also allow that once I hit “publish” anyone can have a look. Some might even be wearing a fez.