If you’re not yet using social media to connect with students, parents and other teachers, you’re missing out! Read on to find out simple ways to use social media to celebrate students, inform parents and the community, connect with other teachers and generally up your game!
Each app has a specific audience and purpose in education. Facebook is great for connecting with parents; they love to tag each other in posts that include students. Twitter is my favorite for connecting with other educators, especially Twitter chats (here is a pretty comprehensive list of Twitter education chats). Instagram and Snapchat are great for connecting with students. I use all four for my library program, but if you’re just starting out, just pick one. Other educators also use Pinterest, Tumblr and probably others I’m not into yet. At this point I use my students as a reference to find out if there is a new app I need to try out.
Post the Positive
Celebrating students is my favorite use of social media. Whether it’s students who have been added to the #dmsreadingwalloffame, my student library assistants (#meetdmslibraryassts), collaborative projects or makerspace creations (#DMSmakerclub), students (and their parents) love getting featured on social media. Celebrations are usually cross-posted on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook with the best ones also making their way to Twitter to share with other teachers.
Promote and inform
Have a test coming up? Want to share an event? Need to promote the upcoming book fair? Social media is great for all of the above. Sometimes kids (and parents) just need a reminder and often they’re more likely to check their social media feeds than they are to check their email.
I am constantly inspired by the other teachers and school librarians I follow on social media. The education community (and maybe especially the library community) are great about sharing ideas, so don’t be afraid to steal! I often screenshot display ideas, lessons, MakerSpace challenges and other images I see to tweak them for my own space. Twitter is my favorite platform for getting ideas; just search a hashtag and see what others have tried on that topic. Often you can message that person directly to find out more and even get resources.
I’ve already shared quite a few of my hashtags in this post. Using a special hashtag for events, your school and groups can help aggregate your tweets and images. Some hashtags I use on a regular basis that you can look up on Instagram and Twitter include:
#DartmouthPS — used district-wide by teachers, librarians and even our superintendent
#meetdmslibraryassts — celebrates my student library assistants/shows off their favorite books
#DMSNJHS — all pictures related to National Junior Honor Society at my school, which I advise
#DMSmakerclub — all pictures related to our after school MakerClub and their creations
Other hashtags I use on a regular basis are not DMS-specific, but can help better describe a post or help gain more followers (#makered, #makerspace, #reading, #librariesofinstagram, #librariansfollowlibrarians, #teachersfollowteachers, etc). When you follow other educators you’ll start to see good hashtags to add to your posts.
The Fine Print
Students follow me; I never follow students. We have an opt-out policy for images of students in publications and very few kids have opted out. I do always ask students when I take their picture if they are okay with their face being on social media. Usually they say yes enthusiastically, but if they say no, that’s fine! Check with your administrators before starting any new accounts; I’m lucky to work in a district with a superintendent who is active on Twitter. My building administrators also see the value of social media in schools. Lots of schools are already harnessing the power of social media; if you want to know more about their policies, you should contact them directly (here’s a big list of schools with social media accounts).
The most important thing is to sound genuine and be positive…oh, and have fun!
Follow Laura on Twitter (@LibrarianMsG), Instagram and Snapchat (@DMSLibrary366) and Facebook (Dartmouth Middle School Library AND Mombrarians Review).