There was a curious announcement at our staff meeting earlier this month:
In 2017, our high school had finally gotten a Twitter account.
I’m most curious to know why now, after all this time? In our smallish rural school division, we are the largest school, but the last to join Twitter.
It isn’t that Twitter has been taboo in our school division. Many of our district administrators have Twitter accounts that they occasionally use, and most every other traditional school in our division has had a Twitter presence for some time. We have schools in our division with only a few dozen students yet they have posted hundreds of tweets over the past several years, providing a window for the wider world into the activities and rhythms of their learning communities. Over half of our teaching staff have Twitter accounts, and about a third of our staff are at least occasional tweeters, or have had periods of avid Twitter use.
I stopped advocating for a school Twitter account fairly early on, even though for me, Twitter has been the most incredible source of professional learning. Twitter has profoundly shaped many of the methods and technologies that I use in my classroom. Yet, it was evident early on that our administrators, who are mostly non-Twitter users, did not see the same learning and sharing power that could exist for teachers in the educational Twitter-verse. Perhaps it seemed like one more complicated to-do list item, especially in the earlier days when school presence in social media places was still seen as risky or debatable.
In the early days of Twitter, many schools jumped to create accounts as a potential means of communicating with the adults in their school community. In most cases, this didn’t prove to be effective as there were too few parents who used Twitter for anything other than following the school, so it wasn’t a very effective method of reaching parents.
Essentially however, Twitter has become a great mode of free advertising for schools, and a way to stay connected with community and even alumni. Schools have gone from advertising meeting dates (or anything else time sensitive), to celebrating learning and building community: sports results, art work in the hallways, field trips, guest speakers, progress on building projects, a window into assemblies, class activities….
Facebook can do many of these things as well, and our school has had a Facebook account for a few years now. Our Facebook account is a disseminator of information – events, and dates and places and times.
Hopefully our Twitter space will become a place of celebrating learning and the evidence of events and things that happen inside the walls of our school. Slowly, but surely.