My strategy was to implement a multi-faceted approach that utilized a variety of tools beyond just Twitter and single media sources with the ultimate goal of sharing and engaging more with stakeholders. The digital world allows all educators to become the storyteller-in-chief, something that I first discussed in detail in Digital Leadership years ago. In both BrandED and Learning Transformed, the concept of building better relationships as a result of improved community engagement was discussed through both a research and innovative practice lens. Along with video, pictures were one of the most potent artifacts that I used to tell our story through greater context. Apparently, there was a reason for this. Take a look at the visuals below, and you will see very quickly why my first inclination was to capture an image and then share using a variety of options.
Each picture provided a more detailed look at how our learners were purposefully using technology to either support or enhance learning. They also were used to showcase how my staff was effectively integrating innovative practices to improve learning outcomes. In other cases, images painted a picture of how our students were serving others in the local community and beyond. Contrary to popular belief, Twitter was not my preferred storytelling tool as a principal. This designation went to Instagram. With this tool, I could quickly snap a picture, add a caption or context, and then not only share here but also to Twitter and Facebook. Hashtags were used to amplify locally, nationally, and globally. With Instagram having over one billion users it makes perfect sense that this platform should be at the center of all sharing efforts. On a side note, you can check out my Instagram account HERE.
One of the most important decisions I made early on during our digital transformation was to get into classrooms more to conduct observations, walk-throughs, and provide better feedback to my teachers. A commitment to instructional leadership helped pave the way to improving learning outcomes across the school. I quickly seized on the opportunity of being in classrooms more by talking to learners and taking pictures of their work. In a matter of seconds after leaving a room, I was able to share the pictures on social media. Many of these became the catalyst for more detailed blog posts that illustrated how theory and research were being implemented in a way that led to evidence of better results.
Regardless of your position, you can use pictures to showcase the greatness that happens in classrooms, schools, and districts across the globe. I took pictures of everything, including plaques hanging in our hallways that celebrated impressive accomplishments relating to student achievement. Below is a quick list that can guide your image taking and sharing strategy:
- Innovative practices: These can be pedagogical or even learning spaces. The key is to add context as to how these practices are leading to improvements in outcomes.
- Artifacts: As a job-embedded coach I am always taking pictures of student work across all disciplines, assessments, what kids are doing on devices, and any tangible item that illustrates good practice.
- Student achievement gains: It is important to share all types of success, including this. Plaques, banners, newspaper articles all make for powerful pictures that can be quickly shared.
- Culture: Everything that falls between, around, or outside classrooms and school that depicts how the needs of the whole child are being met make for compelling pictures. Pep rallies, staff comradery, service projects, internship experiences, capstone projects, and field trips are just a small sampling of what can be shared to illustrate a thriving school culture.
As the title of this post implies, a picture is worth a thousand words and our brain loves them. How good is your current strategy at taking advantage of this?
Source: A Principal's Reflections
I am a Senior Fellow and Thought Leader on Digital Leadership with the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE).