Ten tips for using social media in school communications

5. Be transparent.

Identify yourself as a school employee on your site or when responding to others. Note that any opinions expressed are your own, and communicate in a professional and appropriate manner.

6. Make sure you keep your personal life separate from your professional life.

Don’t friend students and parents, or connect them with your personal page. Do allow students, parents, and colleagues to follow your professional postings online. Anything that’s not appropriate for the classroom or the evening news is not appropriate online.

7. Have a friend check your spelling and grammar.

Educators are held to higher standards when it comes to grammatical and spelling errors, appropriate word usage and choices, and other key elements of communication. Make sure you are representing the education profession well—and in a manner that inspires others to support public schools and public school children.

8. Write like a parent or ordinary person, not an educator.

Social media networks offer a great opportunity to humanize and personalize scary folks like public school teachers, social workers, counselors, principals, and superintendents. Keep your tone conversational, and avoid using jargon like “differentiated instruction” or “authentic assessment.” Say what you mean using everyday words and simple, declarative sentences.

9. Show you care.

Parents and other education stakeholders want to know that you care about kids. Don’t be afraid to show your passion for the work that you do and the children you serve. Social networks use terms like “friend,” “fan,” “like,” “poke” and “connect” for a reason. The idea is to connect people in new and non-threatening ways.

10. Safeguard others’ privacy.

Telling stories about real students and real classroom, school, and district challenges doesn’t mean you have to tell people personally identifiable details, such as their full names, job titles, addresses, phone numbers, pay, or other information protected by state and federal privacy laws.

Award-winning eSchool News columnist Nora Carr is the chief of staff for North Carolina’s Guilford County Schools.

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