When dealing with children, it is especially important to be mindful of protecting their well-being in whatever ways you can.
It makes sense to have a policy to discourage individual teachers from posting specifics about their students to their personal profiles.
By setting up a Facebook Page, schools can establish a controlled, professional presence that allows them to capitalize on this social space in many important ways, while still protecting their students. It’s important to note that while a Facebook Page is an excellent opportunity for schools to supplement their web presence, it doesn’t fully replace the benefits of a robust website.
A Quick Note on Protecting Students
As we discuss the potential benefits of using Facebook, it’s important to frame the discussion with a warning about protecting students. Before launching a Facebook Page, school leaders must ensure they’ve thought through the types of content they’re going to share with the world. Schools should avoid sharing last names of students as this can potentially jeopardize their safety (and in some cases is actually illegal). With a little forethought, Facebook can offer a variety of benefits without risking any safety to students or members of the school community.
Share What’s Happening
A Facebook Page is a great place to post noteworthy happenings around the school via a status update that posts on the Page’s wall. This is an easy way to keep families informed as to what’s going on during the school day. Additionally, it only takes moments to do (which in a school is always a good thing). If an event is particularly exciting, take some photos to share.
Share Upcoming Events
A Facebook Page is an excellent opportunity for a school to post upcoming events using the Facebook Events app. This app not only allows people to RSVP, but also makes it easy for them to share that they’re attending.
Use Media to Showcase School Culture
Many schools see them as not only academics but also the social development of its students.
Photos are an excellent way to showcase school culture. A school may choose to use photos to highlight a variety of aspects of the school, including:
- Students exhibiting values the school encourages
- Celebrations of student work
- Field trips
- Experiential learning activities
- Assemblies or school-wide celebrations
- Recognition of individual students for excellence
Videos can be an incredible way for a school to personalize its online presence and actually demonstrate what it is that makes it special. A school may add videos that showcase a lot of different things, including:
- A variety of learning, including different subjects and age groups
- Assemblies or school-wide events
- Community meetings
- High caliber teaching and student engagement
- Students, teachers, and members of the community discussing what makes the school special
- Share songs, chants, or cheers that are used as a part of school culture or academics
- Sporting events
- Plays, concerts and other performances
Use as a Recruitment Tool
Facebook has potential to help a school attract talented teachers and school leaders as well as raise the overall level of awareness surrounding the hard work it’s doing. By using Facebook, a school can add another layer to their recruitment efforts and help attract staff and, if applicable, attract students as well.
Using Facebook to Attract Staff
Facebook is a logical place for schools to focus some of their efforts when recruiting talented teachers and school leaders.
Additionally, Facebook is a great place for a school to post its job openings. Facebook makes it incredibly easy to share content, which means if I know someone who’s looking for a certain teaching position and come across such a position on a school’s page, I can easily send it his or her way. Current teachers can also share job openings with people in their network that may potentially be interested in applying.
If a school has an online system for accepting job applications, it should include the link on the Facebook Page. If a school doesn’t have such a system in place, it may want to consider using an application that integrates with Facebook. Here’s an example from TEAM Schools, a Network of KIPP Schools, which is using the Job Magic Facebook app to recruit and accept applications.
Using Facebook to Attract Students
A school can share the aspects of the school that make it appealing through photos and videos. But it can also provide how to enrol, including deadlines, links to an online application, and links to resources that may be useful for a family that is interested in enrolling a student. The fact that information is easily shared via Facebook again bodes well for a school interested in recruiting students.
Get Feedback from the Community
By effectively leveraging Facebook, a school can make it easier for community members to get involved and share their opinions on a variety of fronts. While some schools may fear this increased participation, others will embrace it as it not only increases involvement, but can also lead to a healthy discourse about what’s happening at the school.
Use Facebook Discussions
One opportunity lies in the Discussions tab on the Facebook Page. A school can create a discussion about a specific topic and allow members of the community to share their thoughts within the thread. Admins will be able to moderate the thread and remove any posts that are inappropriate.
Polls provide a chance for a school to solicit feedback directly from its followers. The nice thing about using a poll is that a school can limit the choices available and, with a few simple clicks, blast it out to all of its followers. It’s a great way to quickly collect data that can help inform decision making.
Make It Personal
The above ideas are merely suggestions as a way to get started. The important thing is that each school makes their Facebook Page an extension of the amazing things they are doing every day in the classroom.
While Facebook is at times a bit daunting, when used effectively it can provide schools with an excellent opportunity to engage the communities they serve and act as a key component in a school’s online presence.