Social Media Tips

A Guide to Social Media Usage 1.0

Social media is one of the most popular ways to share accomplishments, best practices, and the learning fun that occurs in education everyday, yet the pitfalls make new and even seasoned educators nervous when trying to establish an entertaining and enlightening digital footprint. The District 205 Communications and Public Relations Department is here to support our teachers and educational leaders who are starting their social media journey.

The number one rule is: Share the Awesome! We have the best jobs in the world. What we do is about and for kids. Sharing the good news about D205 on social media should be fun, not a chore. Whether using an official D205 channel at the building or district level or using your personal accounts, take it slowly and build upwards from there. Make it a goal to post once or twice a week and be consistent. 

Smartphones make it easier to be D205 social media champions and storytellers across the district. As you begin to share the awesome, remember to like, share, and follow the District on social media via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Social media has become our fastest way of sharing school news, delays and closing, and weather-related information. Finally, always remember to add District hashtags, #D205 or #IgniteD205 to your posts, so that we can share in the excitement and keep the conversation going.

Have a great year! Go Dukes! Go D205!
 

Social Media Tips for Teachers and Educators

Know Why You Want to Be on Social Media

Having a professional presence on social media is very common today. However, you should be clear on why you want to incorporate social media into your classroom or life as a teacher. Take a look at other teachers. How are they using their platform(s)? From there, create a mini-plan or direction for your page or account. Identify your voice or message. As you begin to post, your plan will help you focus your content and stay true to mission.

Know Your Audience. Do You Need to Be on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter?

Determine the right social media format for you. As a teacher, your colleagues are typically sharing professional ideas using Twitter. However, many parents and families are engaged on Facebook and Instagram. Who are you trying to reach? 

D205 professionals are increasingly using Twitter to stay connected with each other. If fact, the District's social media hashtag or theme is #IgniteD205. When sharing awesome happenings in your classrooms, include the hashtag so that the D205 Communications Department can see your posts and consider sharing on the District's social media feeds. 

Use District Communications & PR as a Resource.

Many school districts have a communications and public relations department. Use the staff, who are using social media on a daily basis, as a resource. Feel free to ask them how to set up a page or account as well as tips on how and what to post. 

Most importantly, social media is a highly visual, storytelling medium. Great pictures and videos are the foundation of any message. Invite communications staffers out to cover special events or programs in your classroom/school. Sharing content can be a win, win proposition. Remember to tag the district's accounts and include any hashtags, such as @ElmhurstD205 and #IgniteD205.

 

Familiarize Yourself with D205 Acceptable Usage Policies

Always know the rules! Review the school district's social media and/or acceptable usage policies and follow them. Here are copies of two of D205's relevant policies:

Web 2.0 Student Contract and Parent Permission

Approval for Student Use of Non-District Provided/Recommended Electronic Media

 

Do Not Follow or Friend Students

Should you follow students? Wisdom and experience say no.  Following students can often blur the separation between the professional and private as well as the roles of teacher and friend. 

It is important that professionals model acceptable usage of technology for students. Teaching them to use social media properly extends beyond the classroom. Even if policy supported such an action, it is best for teachers and students to have parameters for engagement in place.

Avoid Negative Comments and Debates

Social media can be a wonderful community-building tool where ideas and information are shared. On the downside, comments and opinions can be offered in ways that create frustration and give rise to conflict.

Make it a rule to never enter into debates and engage negative comments. Always be a source for factual and/or positive information. 

Personal vs. Professional Accounts

While it may seem like a pain to maintain two, it is perfectly okay to have personal and professional social media accounts. However, whatever direction you choose, it is important to be consistent and present work-safe images and content.

Social media has made the world closer. The degrees of separation between one's professional and personal persona are non-existent. Employers, parents, and students often research or seek out their teachers or employees outside of the work environment. Always be conscious of the following to make sure communication is family-friendly:

Language - Keep it fun, but PG. Avoid cursing, inflammatory, or derogatory language. Avoid joking at another person or groups expense.

Photos - Be conscious when posting images. Your profile picture, selfies, and photos should never show indecent behavior or dress, alcohol, drugs, or symbols that may be misconstrued.

Student Privacy - Check with your front office to confirm which students are on the "no photo/video" list. Beyond that, always update parents on how social media plays a role in your classroom. Give parents a chance to opt out should they feel uncomfortable.

 

Share the Professional! Undershare the Personal! Never Share the Private!

Educator Gweneth Jones a.k.a. the Daring Librarian coined this motto and valuable synopsis for fellow educators who embark on their social media journey: Share the professional! Under share the personal! Never share the private!

Professionally, our filters are much more keen and sharp when speaking face-to-face with kids, parents, and the community, but many of the key points in communication, such as tone, inflection, humor and intent, lose translation in formal writing and even more amidst the brevity and informality of social media. 

Remaining professional is always the safest bet. However, introducing a bit of personality makes social media easier to enjoy, entertaining, and relatable to followers. Strive for balance. Share an appropriate quote, picture of your summer vacation view, cover of a great book, a great recipe, selfie with a colleague or friend. It makes your feed unique and approachable.

However, exercise restraint and resist oversharing extremely personal or private details. Not only can it be awkward, but oversharing can be deemed inappropriate and lead to professional challenges.

 

Ask for Permission When Using Student Images, Info, and Names

Refrain from sharing private health, discipline, or academic information online. Never discuss student or parent conflict online. When in doubt, check-in. Speak with your principal. He or she can give you some valuable guidance that can prevent issues.

Again, consult with your front office to confirm which students are on the "no photo/video" list. Beyond that, always update parents on how social media plays a role in your classroom. Give parents a chance to opt out should they feel uncomfortable.

 

Think About Your Posts, Shares, Likes, & Follows. Be Conscious. Be Responsible

Remember you are what you post, like, share, or follow. Your posts, shares, likes, and follows are considered extensions of your opinion or endorsements.

As an educator, your digital footprint will follow you. Even if a post or like does not cause you immediate repercussions, as your career develops and society changes, you remain accountable for what you have said or shared even if it was years ago.

Keep Passwords Private. Revisit Them Annually.

Passwords are a part of life, and keeping up with them is a chore. As much as possible, keep your passwords private. Consider changing them at least annually. Sharing your social media passwords and access to content is akin to sharing your identity. You become responsible for another person's actions should he/she use your account.