It’s April in Kansas. That means we’re in the final throes of our legislative session for the year. And just as we are guaranteed to have spring allergies, we’re also guaranteed to see education funding on the chopping block. And the furor grows as each side begins to paint the portraits of the other as evil, corrupt, takers. The truth is, the portraits each side is painting is no more accurate than the other.
As I travel across Kansas and many other states & countries, I see the same story. I’m trying my best to help the educators who are begging for support. I think I get to see a pretty darned accurate picture of what’s happening in the schools today. In every school I enter, I see educators who are absolutely trying their best to do the right things for kids at every turn. And they’re trying to squeeze every cent out of every dollar to the best benefit of the kids they face every single day.
I also see these schools surrounded by local and broader communities that don’t know their story. Sure, folks down the road in Topeka, or even in Washington DC think they know what our kids and our teachers are like, but mostly, they’re wrong. Dead wrong.
So I spend a great deal of time trying to figure out how to help schools right this wrong. I ask them where they run into their community members. The answers are inevitably the same: the grocery store, the coffee shop, church, and ball games. I ask them where else. Eventually, and in some audiences it’s quicker than others, someone recognizes they are consistently “running into” their broader community on Facebook. And on Twitter. And then I ask them how they’re leveraging those tools to help paint the most accurate picture of their schools possible.
The truth is, many — too many — schools and districts are using their social media accounts as one-way communication about sports scores. I see it all the time. While that’s a demographic and a real audience, I wonder how else we could be leveraging not only our official school and district accounts, but also the accounts of educators to reach out to our local and broader communities to share the great stuff we’re doing. I wonder how we can look outside our local communities for ideas on how to do it better and who’s been down this track before us.
Kevin Honeycutt has hit squarely upon the truth when he says that schools and teachers are dying of humble.
Take a good hard look at your school and district Twitter and Facebook account. Ask the questions about what is getting posted and why. And do the same for your personal account. Show what students are doing. Brag up the learning of, if not your own class, then the kids down the hallway. Join in your local state-education Twitter chat (see map below for details).
Let’s tell our story in a way that is true, accurate, and undeniable.
Because someone out there is telling our story right now. And he’s getting it wrong. Let’s be sure we all are helping to get it right.