Making Facebook work for your Elementary School
A year ago a brave superintendent granted me permission to embark on a Facebook journey for my elementary school. Like many districts these social networking sites had been restricted and not viewable by those of us in the school realm.
My intention was to communicate with parents where they were already hanging out at. Too often I found that messages and announcements to parents were being lost by the young "middlemen and ladies" that we entrusted to transport content home. By using Facebook I could deliver the message directly to them and literally place it right in front of them. After discussing the idea with my PTO I quickly realized that the vast majority of our parents were already friends with each other and involved on Facebook. . Here are a list of suggestions for getting started.
- Create a Fan Page: Instead of setting up a typical account on Facebook I went with a fan page. The benefits to a fan page are many. First, I post content and don't get content from anyone else. That means that when a "fan" of our page posts that they just went up a level in "Farmville" it does not appear on our fan page. Parents and family simply become fans of your elementary school.
- Feedback. If you choose fans can post comments. This has been a positive to our page. Great feedback and comments. We've also had parents start discussions about fundraisers and ideas they have for our school.
- I have the ability to delete comments if necessary. I can happily say that I have never had to use this feature and that our comments have always been positive. I believe one reason for this is that if a parent was to comment negatively about a teacher or situation their comment would be seen by all other parents. Since most parents are genuinely positive about their child's school this may not work out so well for the naysayer.
- Start simple. I started by posting documents such as our cafeteria menu. We posted content about spirit days and teacher accomplishments. We have since worked up to short videos, pictures, and links, along with general posts and announcements.
- Ask parents for content suggestions. We quickly found out that our parents knew what they wanted from the fan page. We were able to meet their needs while also increasing ownership for the site. We found out that many of them wanted us to post awards and pictures like they would see in their local newspaper. After making sure our district media release covered this we were able to post pictures (without names) various students.
- Share the responsibility. Facebook allows you to give permission to multiple people to post content. In my building myself, the guidance counselor, and school secretary can post content.