This Tuesday I’ll be starting my first full-year as the Elementary Principal of T. Baldwin Demarest Elementary School (TBD) in the Old Tappan School District. Since assuming the position last spring, one of my priorities has been making sure there is ongoing communication between the school and the community. Although nothing entirely replaces face-to-face communication (which should be our default, when possible), we have also been leveraging a weekly newsletter (created in WordPress), social media, and a district hashtag – #OldTappanProud – to inform our stakeholders and tell our story.
By the time last school year came to a close, pretty much all of our classroom teachers were on Instagram, pushing out photographs (and some videos) with their classroom accounts. And, the students and the community have made it clear they love the sneak peeks into what’s happening in our learning spaces. These previews help us to be transparent with our work, while assisting us in growing and promoting our school’s brand or identity.
As the principal, I’m currently the only person who posts to the school’s social media accounts (although, in the future, it may be advantageous to occasionally turn over the reins to students or teachers). Therefore, as the school’s default storyteller-in-chief, I have both the responsibility and pressure of making sure what’s posted accurately and positively reflects what’s taking place at the school. In other words, according to Tony Sinanis and Joe Sanfelippo, I have to “ensure that the brand promise matches the brand experience.”
That being said, as I continue to reflect upon how I represent my school on social media, and as I continue to learn from other educators who post about their schools, I’ve started to think it’s possible to categorize the different ways in which posts contribute (or don’t contribute) to a school or district’s brand. Awareness of these categories can help us to ensure our intent goes hand-in-hand with the perceptions of our stakeholders who view what we publish.
Although it’s impossible to categorize every post, here are five categories I have found to be common amongst administrators. (Keep in mind, the lines between these categories can also be blurred.)