flucostories

School Branding: It Takes a Team

When you are working to brand yourself as an educator and share your story online, you rely on yourself to share the information. You can’t rely on others to share it for you, and how much you share depends entirely on you. Sometimes, you may go a month or more without sharing anything because life happened. It can happen to anyone. However, school branding is a different beast.

Schools often put one person in charge of social media postings, and hope for the best. One person sometimes has to gather images, check media releases, and share stories. They are responsible for checking feedback, comments, and messages sent via social media. Often, they must report anything out of place to administration. This person often has other roles to play in the school, and so social media may fall by the wayside. This leaves schools unable to share many stories, or they are more likely to share simple things, such as announcements and lunch menus.

School branding should not fall solely on one person’s shoulders. School is a community, and it takes many kinds of people to help it function well. School branding should become part of the community effort, even if it’s a small community group alone at first. Having more than one person work to gather stories, to check releases, and to monitor social media pages distributes the tasks among multiple folks, each with a common goal in mind: share the good with the community.

In my district, it is a slow process. I am working to change it, but it definitely takes time. One of my schools, however, is trying a new approach, and this could very well change the frequency with which we share our school’s stories on our Facebook page. Only time will tell, and I will definitely be observing to gather feedback.

Fluvanna Middle School has periods of infrequent sharing on their Facebook page. Administrator Rebecca Smith has taken a different approach. As she completes observations of teachers in the classroom, she snaps pictures of the activity occurring. These images are passed onto myself. I do not know all 800+ students in the school, so I have teamed up with librarian Kate McDaniel to identify students with media release. We tag team together and delete any photographs where a student may not have permission to be photographed. Next, I email the teacher for a description of the activity that was occurring at the time. I usually need just 2-3 sentences to work with- enough to describe the learning taking place. Once I have the description, I schedule the post for Facebook and use our #flucostories hashtag.

As you can see, this involves the work of multiple people, and helps to create a more frequent story of Fluvanna Middle School. The task of sharing stories on social media does not fall to only one person, nor should it. Based on what we’ve seen so far, we are hoping to continue to use this method to gather many classroom stories for our families to view. In the past, our families have expressed the desire to see a variety of stories from more than just the academic classes, and that’s what we’re working toward delivering.

If your school relies solely on just one person to run their social media, it may be time to rethink the strategy. Communities rely on the people within to help them grow and flourish. If your school wants to have their school story prosper and be spread, then reach out and find ways to bring more folks on board. You just might develop an even better school story than before!

Building Our District Brand: Creating Hashtags

I’ve been talking to some of our educators in the district who use Twitter and decided we needed some hashtags just for us. Our high school students had to create a hashtag for the high school students, but it’s not really utilized. I wanted the educators in the district to have their own hashtag, and later on I would try to get them using it more.

A couple days later I thought about the things I had been sharing via my own Twitter platform and how I planned to share more stories about the schools I am with via their Facebook and Twitter pages. I wanted some way to chronicle these together without it being too long. It didn’t take long before one popped into mind.

Our district does have the advantage of having a unique mascot, the Flying Flucos. It’s pretty easy to create hashtags or usernames that involve “flucos”. And for those who aren’t from the district, do¬†you know what a Fluco is?

Here are our new hashtags:

#flucoed- This one’s just for educators to use to connect in Fluvanna County. Other districts and areas have them so that educators in that space can easily address each other, so we have followed suit. I’m hoping to get it moving and being utilized more often, but that’s also going to involve getting more people on board with Tweetdeck. Projects, projects…

#flucostories- This is my favorite of the two. It’s my way of getting our stories out there and labeled under one hashtag, no matter what type of social media is being used. I’m asking my fellow Fluco Twitter educators to start using this when they share stories from their classrooms. Since I now have access to Facebook and Twitter for the middle and high school, I’m also using this tag when I share posts on there. I’m hoping it’ll catch on, especially once I pass it on to the other schools who run social media as well.

Student Voices on Social Media

Over the past few weeks, I have been working with a classroom at Fluvanna County High School to solve a problem that was proposed by Superintendent Keller: How do we get student voices involved and sharing positive stories of our school district?

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I’ve been updating every so often about how I’m working to get the district together and all schools working to share the positive stories that come from each school. Superintendent Keller loves the idea and wants to take it further. She suggested I work with the economics/marketing teacher and come up with a way to do this with his students. I had never worked with this teacher before, but as soon as we connected, we were both excited with the possibilities that this problem could bring.

In time, we developed a project with a basic plan:

  • Step 1: Research 3 marketing brands/companies and explore their use of social media
  • Step 2: Research 3 ways Fluvanna County School district uses social media (students would be provided with a list)
  • Step 3: Create a project to solve the problem presented by the superintendent.

We fleshed out the plan further, including discussion questions to lead in/exit, presentations before Superintendent Keller and some of the school board members, and the use of Google Classroom for the entire project. We left the final project very open-ended because we wanted to simulate solving a problem in the marketing world. We knew some students would balk at this, as they were used to being told exactly how to get an A. All we did was make sure they knew what parts needed to be answered as part of their proposal. How they created the final presentation, and how they solved the issue itself was entirely up to them.

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The only snag we ran into with getting started was students not being able to view any kind of social media on the student wi-fi network. They were unable to view Twitter or Facebook. This was a hurdle, as these students needed to be able to find examples and explain how each company/brand utilized social media. In the end we pooled the teacher devices that we had (2 laptops, a desktop, and a Chromebook) and allowed different groups to use them under supervision for their research, and then return at the end of class.

Currently, students are working on their final project presentations. They were allowed to use anything they wanted, but most used Slides or PowerPoint. Some are exploring Prezi or Powtoons as well. We are making sure that students have tips and tricks to utilize when creating their presentations that will help them create professional ones.

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Later, I’ll share some highlights from discussion questions and projects. For now, I’ll continue to update and share images of students hard at work, as well as images of the final presentations, which will be December 9th, 13th, and 16th.