From the Principal's Office: The Right Way is Your Way

1/11/2013 12:00:00 AM
I have read some very thought-provoking posts and associated commentary over the past couple of weeks focusing on how particular educators use social media.  What I have found interesting is the powerful opinions as to how one should use social media.  I think it is great that so many people have focused opinions on what social media should, could, or should not be with a considerable emphasis on specific do's and dont's.  These specific methods and techniques work for them and it is important that all of us have some sense as to the why and how when it comes to our own social media use.  It is these opinions that always force me to reflect on my own use, objectives, and goals.

Image credit: http://www.somema.org/the-10-ds-of-creating-a-social-media-use-policy/

To make things clear there is no guidebook out there that educators must abide by when it comes to using social media.   Social media is like the "Wild West" in that there are no overbearing rules, which is why I love it so much.  I can be brief if I want to.  I can comment on a post or tweet if I want to.  I can share something if and when I want to.  I can follow or unfollow whoever I want at any time.  I can recommend educators to follow if I want to.  Heck, I can post pictures of my kids if I want to.  The only firm rule I would encourage all educators to follow is to use common sense when posting to the Internet and always remember your role as an educator in the community you serve. Everything else is basically up to you and your specific preferences.

This has led me to think about how I use a myriad of social media tools with Twitter being my main go to resource.  To put it simply here is how I use social media as an educational administrator and learner:
  • Acquire, share, and curate resources
  • Discussion forum and engage in conversations of professional interest
  • Elicit feedback on ideas and initiatives I launch at my school
  • Support
  • Ask questions and receive answers
  • Track conferences
  • Digital newspaper
  • Connect with practitioners as well as experts in the field of education
  • Build, cultivate,and interact with a Personal Learning Community (PLN) to grow professionally and do what I do better
  • Promote my work and the work of others
  • Share the great things my students and teachers are doing
  • Public relations
  • Enhance communications
Is there a right or wrong way to use social media? I personally don't think so.  The beauty and power of social media is that it is adaptable to fit our particular needs and goals at a given time.  As our goals and needs change our use of social media will evolve.  My point here is that any way an educator decides to use social media is the right way. What are your thoughts on this? Should there be specific rules or guidelines for educators to follow in online spaces?

cross-posted on A Principal's Reflections

Eric Sheninger is a NASSP Digital Principal Award winner (2012), PDK Emerging Leader Award recipient (2012), winner of Learning Forward's Excellence in Professional Practice Award (20 12), Google Certified Teacher, Adobe Education Leader, ASCD 2011 Conference Scholar, co-author of Communicating and Connecting With Social Media: Essentials for Principals and What Principals Need to Know About Teaching and Learning Science, writer on education for the Huffington Post, co-creator of the Edscape Conference, sits on the FEA Board of Directors, and was named to the NSBA "20 to Watch" list in 2010 for technology leadership. He now presents and speaks nationally to assist other school leaders embrace and effectively utilize technology. His blog, A Principal's Reflections, was selected as Best School Administrator Blog in 2011 by Edublogs.
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