Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Principal as Advocate

Whether you recognize it or not, you are an advocate, always advocating for your school and the resources you need to improve the educational experience of your students. Advocacy is often compared to public relations but is actually quite different. When a leader advocates for their school they are committed to providing information to stakeholder groups that will build support for their vision of a high performing school. It is a recognition of the importance of building networks and alliances to support their efforts.

One helpful tool is to build a "Key Communicator Network." The network, developed by the National School Public Relations Association includes several key steps.
  • Bring together a small group of trusted people who know the community. Talk with them about those whom others listen to. They may not be in formal leadership roles but communicate regularly with lots of people (barber, cab driver, supermarket checkout clerk).
  • Be sure and represent all segments of the community.
  • Invite these people to join your communication group and then ask them to meet regularly with you to provide honest, objective, information about your school.
  • Encourage them to keep their ears open for any questions or concerns community members may have about the school. It's always good to learn about issues early.
  • Establish a way to maintain communication with the group consistently throughout the year.
The most effective leaders need, and build, a network of people who provide them with accurate, timely information about their school. These same individuals can also share information with the larger community about your school's successes and your vision for your school's success. The Key Communicator Network is one way to establish two-way communication with your community. I'd enjoy learning about other ways you've found to advocate for your school and its students.

Monday, April 2, 2012

School Leader's Guide to Social Media

The explosion in use of social media has impacted schools. While many focus on some of the negatives associated with its use, there is growing evidence that social media is transforming the way students learn and interact with others in the educational environment. Like all innovations, social media technology comes with challenges. But my co-author and I have learned from principals that social media has transformed the way students interact with one another and with the world around them. These changes have a profound impact on what schools can and must do to provide an effective education for twenty-first century students.

Because social media has tremendous potential to change the way we communicate, learn and teach, we believe there is a moral and ethical obligations to teach students how to use this technology effectively, ethically, and for the greater good.

In response to this belief J. Howard Johnston and I wrote a book for school leaders that provides a useful introduction to the world of social media in schools and offers useful strategies and tools that they can immediately use in their schools. It is available from Eye on Education ( and is available in e-book format as well as in a soft cover edition.

We'd enjoy hearing from you about social media and how it has impacted your school.