Leadership magazine March/April 2019 V48 No. 4 - Page 17

sure to check with your superintendent and board policies regarding social media use in your schools. Student Information System (SIS): We regularly use our messaging system with pre-scheduled recorded messages for mini- mum days, special events and holidays. I have found that by voice recording our mes- sages, we have a better chance of fewer hang- ups. Families like to hear from the principal, and students will often say, “You called my house!” Our district uses the Infinite Cam- pus SIS (www.infinitecampus.com). School webpages: When families and the community want to know about a school or district, they usually begin with a Google search. It is important that your webpages stay up-to-date. Find someone in your school who can be the webpage guru to keep your site accurate and current. We are migrating to SchoolBlocks (www.school- blocks.com) this year and are excited to cre- ate pages that will encourage our parents to connect and engage. Google Sites (https:// sites.google.com) also has great templates for your site or teachers to use to share and communicate. Twitter: We use Twitter (twitter.com) for on-the-go posts and texts. You can fol- low our school at @StandardElem. This is a quick and easy way to share pictures and updates. We use a few apps to help create visually stimulating posts, including Pho- togrid (https://photo-grid.en.softonic.com/ web-apps) and AdobeSpark (https://spark. adobe.com). We also convert the PDF ver- sions of school newsletters and f liers into JPEGs to upload on Twitter. If parents do not have a Twitter account, we encourage them to sign up for the Twitter text mes- sages option (https://support.twitter.com/ articles/20169920). Facebook and Instagram (PTA driven): Our small but busy PTA makes sure to duplicate and promote all of the school events on their social media pages. Face- book (www.facebook.com) can be one of a school’s greatest assets in sharing celebra- tions and events with the community. We also know it can be a sounding board for the disgruntled. Our goal is to use the “power of positive.” We share with parents how to connect and post using our hashtags when “Our goal is to meet families where they are. We inform parents of the various ways we share important information, school updates on events and other pertinent topics through digital sources.” they attend school events. We have also im- plemented the monitoring feature, where we have oversight in the posts for both of these platforms (www.instagram.com). School sign: Though this may not seem like much, many of our community are without vehicles and walk by our school regularly. We use a digital marquee to adver- tise events and encourage them to follow our social media accounts. It is in a highly visible location that updates on a weekly basis. Digital media for staff Both classified and certificated staff are rapidly and regularly using digital media for work and life. Our goal is to lighten the paper load and get everyone on the same digital page. The district provides regular training for staff through the district and our ed tech mentors (staff-on-stipends), as well as through a technology and learning district conference at the beginning of the school year. Staff is also encouraged to at- tend technology training conferences and workshops throughout the year. Google Classroom: Our district became a Google Apps for Education district al- most five years ago. In that time, we have equipped every student, K-8, and nearly every teacher with a Chromebook. To en- courage staff to use Google Classroom (https://classroom.google.com) with their classes, we have a “classroom” for our entire staff. Each staff member joins as a student, and administration serves as the teacher. This has worked great to post the weekly bulletin, hyperlinked documents to staff meetings and professional developments, and to share staff “shout-outs” for praises and celebrations. It is also a great place to share encouragement and words of inspira- tion. Group texts and emails: While this may be an obvious choice, we find that there re- main educators who do not group text or email to share information. We also find that many staff require reminders to check their email daily and frequently. Email re- mains the primary source of communication on our campus. Remind App: As a school leader, I created a group in the Remind App (www.remind. com) to communicate quickly and for emer- gencies. Every teacher and classified staff is encouraged to join the group. We have had to use this for lockdowns, loss of power or water issues, and even school precautionary evacuations. Rather than trying to gather a group text in the midst of a crisis, this app allows us to push information out quickly. Recipients can reply, but this message goes only to the sender, not the entire group. It has been a very efficient and cost-effective way to communicate and get to-the-minute updates to staff in crisis situations. With the ever-growing options in digital and social media, we will continue to learn and use new resources to reach out to fami- lies to build the home/school relationship. Parents will continue to be encouraged to get involved and stay current in the academic lives of their students. Our job as schools and districts is to streamline those pathways of communication, and continue to share our message of academic progress, student growth and success. Stay positive, stay cur- rent and stay connected. Susan Denton is the principal at Standard Middle School March | April 2019 17