Friday, April 8, 2011

Twitter me this....

by Amber Teamann

Why would an administrator want to take on the headache of using social media with their parents and community? What if I asked if you, as an administrator, would like to have more communication with your parents, keep them updated and alerted to any and all important school news, while only taking up a fraction of your time?

Twitter provides just such an opportunity. Our parents today are busy. It’s not always like it used to be with a mom waiting at home with a snack to go through a weekly folder and help with homework. Today’s mom and dad’s may be working more than one job. They may be working late into the evening. They may have more than one student to come home and help. Even the most traditional of families can become buried underneath the responsibilities of soccer, dance, and Girl Scouts. Recognizing the different dynamics of what our students are going home to can help guide how we communicate with them all. Providing the same information in as many mediums as possible can only help ensure that we are reaching as many parents as we can.

How do I envision Twitter as an asset? It allows your tech savvy parents who are involved with social media a way to get current and timely information. Sending reminders about picture day, school closures, make-up days…things that parents are concerned about can be short and sweet. Being that technology, social media in particular, has taken over so many aspects of many.

In a world where anything can happen, and information travels SO fast, Twitter allows for timely communication. Emergencies happen and while not life pressing, to a parent, having a concern immediately taken care of can be gratifying. We had a situation this year where there was a fire in the kitchen. No students were ever in danger, but to the neighborhood surrounding us, seeing the campus swarmed with fire trucks and district personnel can be unnerving. An “all call” went out to parents that afternoon, but we had several concerned calls in the interim. Twitter would have calmed & clarified the situation immediately.

Every week a stack of reminders are sent home. Tests, pictures, events, policies, etc…we send them home in bulk at certain times of the year. A tweet is only 140 characters. Short and sweet. “ Free dress tomorrow.” “Don’t forget to return your library books.” “ 2nd grade field trip, bring your lunch!” All the things a teacher wishes she could call and remind each parent of the day before. May not be worth another sheet a paper, but a tweet? Absolutely.

Not all of our parents are on Twitter. Recognizing that there would be a learning curve is ok. SOME of our parents are. SOME might be inclined to look into it knowing that it was offered. SOME might take advantage of the “Fast Follow” option that Twitter provides, which sends texts of tweets. In fact, sending a text was originally the only way users could tweet. This is why tweets are 140 characters -- they need to fit into a text message. Anyone in the US can receive Tweets on their phone even if they haven’t signed up for Twitter. This is a simple way for people to get information they care about in real-time. They won’t need a Twitter account or to sign up for anything. This will require some training, but it’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t text these days. Providing training would be worth the results each year.

Twitter is not the silver bullet that will allow seamless communication between school and home. What it will do is provide another opportunity for educators to reach out to the parents and attempt to bridge the disconnect between school life and home life. If it also opens a door to discussing social media, cyber behavior, or having an online presence? Even better.

Amber Teamann is currently the assistant principal at Luna Elementary school located in Garland, Texas. Working with students is her passion and getting to work with the best elementary staff is a bonus. Her background in instructional technology has allowed for numerous opportunities to present on a district, regional, and state level on a variety of integration pieces. She enjoys bringing that energy and awareness to her teachers and students. Her blog presents both integration tips and directions for lovers of all things educational and technology. You can also follow her on Twitter @8Amber8


  1. "It allows your tech savvy parents who are involved with social media a way to get current and timely information."

    Great reason for administrators shy of using social media (like blogs in newsletters) to be open to diverse ways of communication.

  2. Hill's, I agree. Anything that an admin can do to simplify the communication process HAS to be beneficial. If you're smart, there's no reason to be afraid.
    Am compiling my research now of both the positives and the negatives of the education AM spectrum...

  3. Love love love this T! Can I be a test teacher???