Last week I had the chance to meet and collaborate with other Virginia educators at the Virginia Association of Independent Schools’ annual conference. This year, the conference theme was Leading Learning: Cultivating Curiosity and Joy. Three excellent keynote speakers, a ukulele choir (no, really!), and some awesome breakout sessions made this a jam-packed day collaborating with and learning from other educators.
This year, I was lucky enough to present, and in my session, Spark Joy in your Reading Program with Social Media, I shared ideas that have helped me to spread the love of reading with online tools. I discussed connecting with my students via Instagram, communicating with parents on Facebook, and sharing book reviews using WordPress, among other things. I shared some of the reasons that social media has worked for me; for example, it’s quicker than a newsletter, and I have found that it embodies that old adage in education, “meet them where they are” (spoiler alert: they’re online!). I also showed some of the recurring features that my students love and request on the regular, like #IADWAYR, Fitz’s Faves, and pretty much any appearance of Brian the cat. Finally, we discussed the importance of modeling positive behavior online; just like we must model and practice the behavior we hope to see with students in the classroom, students don’t inherently know how to be their best selves online. Having an online presence and interacting with students online gives them an opportunity to see good digital citizenship in action.
See some highlights from my presentation below.
At the end of the session, attendees asked a series of thoughtful questions about social media and the role that it plays in my job, and how it works at our school. Many of these questions were eye opening for me, and it brought so many things to my attention that I had never considered before! I have explored with social media in education for most of my career, and my use of social media in the library has grown since starting at St. Anne’s-Belfield School. At STAB, I have had the pleasure of learning from seasoned educators that have been sharing their expertise online for years. These role models have shown me how to share snapshots and ideas with parents, students, and other teachers in a way that keeps children safe.
While our school community opts to share snippets of school life online, every school has a different social media policy, and that works for me might not work for other educators. Before you share on social media, check with your administration and/or public relations team to learn more about profile and posting expectations. Learn the rules about interacting with students and families online, and always consult your Do Not Photograph list. After returning from VAIS, I had a meeting with our PR team to share my questions, and I asked them to look over my social media accounts and check that I was on the right track. I plan on doing this once or twice a year so that as my online presence grows and changes, I can make sure that I am representing my school, and myself, in the best possible way. If you’re thinking about sharing your work online, reach out and introduce yourself to the people at your school that know its online presence and regulations best – both for advice and for collaboration!
Thank you for having me, VAIS! I enjoyed sharing my experiences on Fitz Between the Shelves, and I left with some great new ideas and helpful questions. I’m already brainstorming for next year’s conference!