In a much earlier post, I wondered out loud why schools and educators are using Twitter to enhance their own practice and their children’s learning experience. Many of the teachers in our school are becoming happier with using Twitter to find and share ideas, read educator’s blogs on different aspects in which that they are interested, or simply to locate new resources. What I wanted to try next involved persuading the headteacher that Twitter is a positive vehicle for our school as a whole, not just for its employees in their own time.
Towards the end of last half term, our year 6 children went on a residential to Condover Hall, and we used this as in ideal opportunity to use Twitter to show how it can be used positively. Borrowing the idea from David Andrews (@dmandrews15), we set up a Twitter account for parents to follow and then linked the account to Posterous. This meant that the tweets would be received by parents as and when they were sent, whereas the Posterous account would keep it as a blog for the children to see once they got back home.
Despite initial problems with Condover’s wifi, we were able to post photographs of the children taking part in their adventurous activities, as well as updating parents with general news, such as our arrival and departure. When we returned, parents and staff commented that using social media in this way was a really positive thing to do, especially for those for whom it was their first time without their children. In total, we had 34 followers (around 8/9 were school staff), and plenty of our tweets were favourited as well.
So why was this important for our school? Well, it has persuaded our headteacher to continue with the Twitter account for school, which means we can communicate with our parents with more immediacy. Hopefully this will help with our general communication, which has been improving recently through our text-message service, as well as staff being ‘encouraged’ to update the school website with more frequency.
We have also been given permission for the blogging classes to have their own Twitter account as well. So far, one has been set up (@StJosephsY5), meaning new posts are automatically tweeted to followers, and the class can communicate directly with other classes around the world. There are already plans for a Twitter Q&A with author Sally Grindley.
Twitter is not the be-all and end-all, but it is certainly an open and free resource which we would be foolish to ignore. There are so many helpful people using Twitter who are more than willing to help children, teachers and schools alike; all it takes is to go for it.
I’d love to hear from any schools who have used Twitter for a while to communicate with parents, particularly if you have had any issues. How did you deal with them?