Social Media vs. School Administrators.


As I travel across this great country (yes, one trip to Miami counts as traveling), I get asked two questions.

The first being “Can you work me into one of your blog posts?” 

Let me think.

No.Jump On the Bandwagon.

That was kind of harsh. Please let me apologize.

I really should take some time to reconsider.

On second thought.  No. 

The only chance of getting mentioned is if your name is Buddy the Dog.

He gets special treatment because he gets over the top excited, runs in circles, and whines ever so slightly when I return home from work.  Or when I come in from the garage.  Or from getting the mail.  Or walk out of the bathroom. 

It’s the exact same reaction whether he hasn’t seen me for 2 weeks or 2 seconds (I love dogs… and don’t forget to visit his Live Webcam).

Lucky for me, Buddy the Dog doesn’t have an agent (conceivably that could cut into my profit margin).

Of course, if you do something funny or interesting (and love me unconditionally), I could change my mind.

The second question is “How am I allowed to write this blog.”  Fair enough.

I always assume this question refers to a superintendent writing a blog and not based on the actual quality of my entries (in other words, what I write stinks).

Either way, it’s an excellent question.

After more than 300 blogs, it almost seems normal to sit down and quickly type my thoughts into a blog.

Almost.

Let’s be honest, there is nothing normal about spending this much time on a blog (or anything else). 

Say it out loud… Superintendent writes a blog.  It just seems weird.

Lucky for me it’s not that difficult.

My only concern is presenting my views, experiences, or embarrassing moments without insulting someone else.

By someone else I mean teachers, other administrators, students, or with anyone I come into contact.

I have to be careful that blogging doesn’t affect my day job (the last time I glanced at our checking account… I really need my day job).

But so far, so good.

The longer I do this (blog at slightly below average level) it becomes more and more apparent to me this will be commonplace in the next few years.

I not only think most school administrators will use social media (blogs, Twitter, Plurk, Posterous… and things they haven’t invented yet), but I think it will become the norm.

Communities and school districts will have an expectation that school administrators use social media.

And use it a lot.

It will be as normal as sending out a parent letter or writing up the highlights of a school board meeting (highlights… lowlights… whatever).

Hopefully, administrators of the future (bigger, stronger, faster) will figure out more productive ways to use social media than me.

They will likely spend more time on topics related to improving education and less on their hate of soccer (I’m sorry, but the use of your hands is required if you want to call it a sport).

It’s going to take someone smarter than me (easy enough) to figure out how social media can benefit students and schools 2, 3, or 5 years down the road.

It will become an ally to schools, not the enemy.

Instead of fighting it, administrators need to figure out ways to use it that are beneficial to students and staff.

Presently, we are fighting a war to hold off the use of Twitter, YouTube, blogging, etc. and we are losing.

The sad part is most administrators have only a limited knowledge of social media.  Because they don’t fully understand it, they assume it’s silly and a waste of time (my blog is not a good example of something that isn’t silly).

We’ve fought this battle before.

It was against cell phones.

If you haven’t heard, we lost.

How did we lose? Students are carrying little computers around in their pockets and we get upset if they take them out and use them.

I would hate to see the same result from the use… or non-use of social media.

Just thinking (typing) out loud, but if you are a school administrator maybe you should start a blog, or open a Twitter account (or use any of the 1,000 other types of social media).

If you blog, then you could write about yourself.

And I wouldn’t have to.

Unless of course you do something really funny… then send it my way.

Because Buddy is starting to get “demanding”… which means I may be  out of material soon.

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2009 is the Year of the Blog.


Who Doesn’t Love Fireworks?

Who Doesn’t Love Fireworks?

This is Part 2 (or the Deuce for my rather large 18-24 audience) of my series on administrators using more technology (or any… I will take what I can get at this point).

The first was An Open Letter to Superintendents and Principals: You Should Blog.

After writing the first one, I was overwhelmed by thousands of emails, comments, and letters (do people still write letters??).

Actually this isn’t true.

I didn’t get thousands, but I did receive several. The problem is they all came from people who recognize that technology is the future of education.

I already have their support. Now I need to broaden my base. I feel like a Democrat running for President.

Very few of the comments came from administrators. They are the ones I was hoping to shame into starting a blog. Or using email. Or simply just turning on their computer.

And by few, I mean 0 (that is a zero and not an O… in case you were confused).

I apologize if I insulted your intelligence, but I have often typed O when I mean 0. But enough about my dyslexia.

Administrators should blog. Or email. Or anything on the computer (just put down the pencil… it will be okay).

Why should you take this drastic step?

For one, it is 2009. Not 1979.

It is too easy to get stuck in our small part of the educational world. If we aren’t careful we will get bogged down by jammed copiers, hallway duty, locker room incidents, milk cartons that won’t open, and bathroom mysteries.

You can spend hours contemplating the minute details of your building and school district.

Before you know it, years will have flown by. Teachers will be organizing your retirement dinner (or roast… depends how good you were at handling those bathroom mysteries).

And just for the record, if retirement does call… answer the phone (don’t feel badly… you have earned it).

But before that happens, it is your obligation to keep up with the ever-changing times.

And these days that means technology. All technology, all the time. If you think it will go away, think again.

This isn’t something you can wait out. In education, we have been trained to do this with regulations, directives, and even testing. It won’t work with technology.

Our children and grandchildren are going to see to that.

As an administrator how many times have we all complained about the teacher who presents lessons in the same way he or she did 30 years ago?

Often times using the same lesson plans (just go to the filing cabinet and pull out the file folder for Chapter 1).

No innovation. No changes. No updates. No excitement. And no technology.

Yet, we seem to be okay doing things in the same way we always have.

As administrators we have built in excuses. We are too busy, we don’t have time to keep up with ever-changing computer stuff, and there is no point to blog because who will read it?

Sure we are busy, but so are teachers and students. If we have high expectations for them, we need to have the same for ourselves.

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. The question is how we choose to use those hours.

Surely, all of us have 30 minutes a week to focus on updating our technology skills.

Technology is like a raging river, so you can’t expect it to stop and wait on you. Your only choice is to walk up to the edge and jump in (or have an employee push you… don’t kid yourself, they have been dying to).

Every school has a teacher or tech person who will sit down beside you and help. All you have to do is ask.

And in many cases, they are just dying for you to ask (just be careful this isn’t the same employee who wants to push you in a river).

Once you get started, it is amazing how much you can learn in a short amount of time.

Make 2009 the year you become a better administrator through the use of technology.

You will be glad you did.

Your teachers and students deserve it.

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Disclaimer

While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.