Telling Our Story

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The smell of the fresh cut Christmas tree. The hope and promise of a New Year’s resolution. December is a natural time to reflect on the personal and professional lessons of the past year as we get ready to set new goals. From Missouri to Kansas, from Florida to Washington DC, in legislative halls and school board chambers across this great country, public education has come under unprecedented scrutiny or at the very least is undergoing an historic transformation.

It is easy to ask “Why is this happening to my school district?” “Why do they want to fundamentally change what we know is working?” The better question is “What should all this talk about change be telling me? And how should I be adjusting my communication techniques and priorities?”

The winds of change can power new thinking or blow you right out of town. Either way, it should be providing urgency to our collective work. That work needs to be happening right now on social media. It is the fastest and most effective way to fight fiction with facts.

In an information age where people cannot or choose not to clearly discern between fake news, alternative facts or political opinion that supports their beliefs, how do we as school district communicators operate in a social space? We have to be telling our story from the front line of education. Are our teachers innovative? Are our outcomes successful? Is this school the best choice for my child? Prove it with pictures and video! Communicate it every day with each social media post.

This is more than a one-person communication department effort can handle. You will need the help of your front-line messengers. I prefer we empower teachers with social media tools and let them prove it themselves. They have the expertise, the classroom access and the most trusted connection with parents. School administrators are a huge piece of this effort as well. They have to be able to explain to parents face-to-face or in cyberspace why their school is highly effective. This is not spinning a message; it is simply telling our story.

The easy days are behind us. Competition and criticism are here and it will make us all better. It makes us focus squarely on what is important and immediate. Social media is the perfect tool to help our schools stand strong through the storms of scrutiny and the winds of change.


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