It’s an issue for many districts across the country. As we previously have read and debated, a school district employee was fired partly due to how they responded to a student’s tweet about snow days. So do you engage and how do you engage with students on Twitter?
Prior to 2016, we had students talking to us at Parkway about snow days online, but we never really engaged in the conversation. That changed last year, and we saw massive gains in the number of impressions (327,400 vs. 113,400), engagement rate (5.4 percent vs. 3 percent) and followers (750 new followers) on our Twitter account during just a few weeks in the winter. But these aren’t just numbers for numbers sake. These are our kids. They matter to us.
We realized that there’s an opportunity — to listen and to talk. If your students are talking to you, do you ignore comments? Or do you engage with them while using the moment as a digital citizenship teaching experience? If students know that you’re actively listening to them and respond in a relatable way, that builds trust. Perhaps nothing is more important in our profession than building trust, especially with kids.
As we plan for winter communications, we face an opportunity during these moments to engage our student audience. We have a snow-day communications plan that includes:
- Replying to student tweets in a fun and engaging way that they would respond to.
- Getting ahead of the “Twitter storm” by tweeting out closings and cancellations on Twitter BEFORE announcing them via phone call, text or other methods.
- Using anything that goes what we consider too far as an opportunity to teach kids about digital citizenship.
The opportunity is staring right at us. Students want to know we care and that we are here for them. There’s no better time to do that than meeting them where they’re already living every day.