Initially I found it difficult settling on a focus for the course assignments. To overcome this I thought about two questions:
- What is happening in my school?; and
- What is relevant to my school?
Doing this led to my choosing a focus that I am interested in; 'Is social media and effective means for schools to engage with students and their families?' I’ve enjoyed reading case studies and readings on the use of Twitter to engage with students, a topic that I am quite passionate about.
Readings on change theory have had a significant impact on the way I will approach change in the future, particularly from a leadership perspective. I had a similar goal in my previous school around using Twitter as a class blog format for sharing and engaging with families. This was ‘implemented’ with little professional development. My expectations were that, because using Twitter through an iPad is ‘easy’, all teachers would readily use it as a replacement for blogs, which we had used in the past.
The Concerns-Based adoption Model has been especially enlightening to me. The reading shows the stages of concern that those affected by change may go through. The reading gave me more empathy for teachers as individuals, I am now more understanding of the different stages of the change process that individuals might be at, as opposed to grouping them all together and expecting the same thing.
I can see that when a planned change process is in place, change is more likely to be long term. The school where I previously led the implementation of Twitter has not seen sustained use of the resource from a majority of teachers after my having left. I believe that this can be attributed in some part to the ‘one size fits all’ model that I led for introducing the resource; as soon as I left and the pressure was off (from my constant reminders to update), posts on many of the Twitter feeds are infrequent at best.
A key question that I had as I chose my focus was what social media resources would be the basis of my research and use. Ideally I would have liked to have used Google Plus, as I can see how this could be so effective in a school community environment. Unfortunately the is a 13+ age restriction on this, so it’s not accessible for almost all of the students in my school. I am still using Facebook, despite the age restriction that it also has, as the key resource for connecting with families. The primary reason so my selection of Facebook being that so many in the school community already use it and are familiar with how it works.
I chose Twitter for students as there is no age restriction on it’s use. My experience in working with children as young as 10 has been very positive. Twitter engages and excites children as they learn the many benefits and uses of the resource.
Another question has been how can I encourage teachers to see the benefits of social media for their students and as a means of communicating with families. This will be addressed through using the Concerns-Based Adoption Model, for the reasons that I have outlined above.
What type of information will be shared on the different social media platforms has been a further question that I have thought about at length. Facebook and Twitter have quite different features, strengths and weaknesses. How I will take advantage of the strengths and overcome the weaknesses will be key in ensuring the long term viability of the change.
I am looking at researching possible levels of privacy for posts, comments and feedback on Twitter. Some in my school community have genuine concerns about the digital footprint of their children, and the access that others may have to information about students. I will look at internet safety information to provide assurance for those parents and caregivers who do have these concerns.
Overall this change journey has been both challenging and exciting for me. I am looking forward to seeing how it develops, and am hopeful that it will lead to long terms benefits for my whole school community.