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Dr. Tisha Shipley has been in education for over 23 years. She has taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, Gifted and Talented 3rd-6th Grades, Dr. Shipley was an elementary principal, a cheer coach, and was on...
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Leveraging Social Media To Build Relationships With Families

leveraging social media to build relationships with families

What are Ways We Already Engage Families?

There are multiple ways to reach families and build those long-lasting relationships. I am sure you have tried “muffins with mom,” “donuts with dad,” “grandparent tea parties,” BBQs, picnics, etc. These are all outstanding and should continue to be used. Working with young children means you have made phone calls home, e-mailed families, texted families, held back-to-school nights, had carnivals, and sent home folders with notes. These are all exceptional ways of keeping families involved. What are some new ways to do this same thing?

Here are some other ways to Involve Families:

Involving Parents

Family Learning Bags

Here is a Challenge for you!

As teachers, we are lifelong learners that want to be the best we can be. In my opinion, we are always changing, learning and want to do what is right for the children and families we work with. As we approach another new school year, what will you do to ensure that you are being innovative and showing families that teaching is your passion? How will you encourage and ensure that a reciprocal relationship is formed so that everyone is successful? This article will challenge you to think differently and encourage you to teach and work outside the box. Will you take the challenge?

Think back to when you were in school. What is something innovative your teachers did? What is something in your classroom you are doing now that is innovative? In 2019, 5.112 billion people had cell phones, and 3.484 billion people used some form of social media (Chaffey, 2019). With this type of statistic, how can we not use social media to inform, engage, and even teach our families? As you begin to use social media in your classroom, you will want to diversify just as you do with your students. Make sure that you are using multiple avenues---there are so many out there to choose from, why not try more than one? This article will hopefully transform your thinking and encourage you to use social media to engage with families. I currently have 8 forms of professional social media that I use to share early childhood topics and ideas. 

Things to Consider:

Before you use social media to engage families, you must teach them about what you will be using. I suggest planning Family Forums to ensure that your families understand how they can engage with you. Family Forums are important as the time allows you, the educator, to plan and organize what you want to share with families in a relaxed and fun way. This is a great opportunity to help families set up their social media accounts and have them follow your important topics. 

Family Forum Ideas

Social Media Sites Must Stay Professional

A professional social media site you use to engage with your families must stay just that. If you have a personal page already, you should be able to create a new account and toggle back and forth so you don’t have to log back in each time. There are also ways to post to one account and ensure that it is also posted to other accounts you have at the same time as to cut down on the amount of time you will need to spend posting. Make sure you choose a professional username that families can remember and also tells about who you are and what you are sharing. Share things that are engaging to your audience, collaborate and engage with others that share the same passions you do, and make sure you have that professional presence for your families. Professional social media sites should be considered as a private page for you and your families where you add new families each year. If pictures are going to be included, you must always get permission from your administration and the families you work with.

You must also think about how much time you have. If you commit to having social media for your teaching, you must post and stay engaged. Visibility is important.

What Social Media Sites You Can Choose From:

LinkedIn is a platform that shows your professionalism. It is a place for you to collaborate with other professionals, share your professional ideas, and add resources. LinkedIn has over 500 million users, and it grows each day (Gallant, 2019). It is like an online resume that provides the world with who you are as a professional educator. LinkedIn allows families to get to know who you are professionally, what professional organizations you may belong to, and what your ideas and thoughts are on teaching and learning.

website might be the most popular way to house information, pictures, and ideas that a teacher could use. I say popular, but it may be that it is an organizational tool for you to use. This tool allows your families to see what you are doing and to access information about what you may be doing in your classroom, such as photos, portfolios, work samples, and even videos. A website allows you to blog your ideas, create different pages, and share virtually anything you see fit. The bottom line: A family member could go to your website to find a host of information that you will update frequently about the goings on in your classroom.

If you aren’t using Instagram to share your ideas, you may want to think about it. One billion people use Instagram each month (Todd, 2019). I use my early childhood Instagram to share ideas for childcare providers, parents, teachers, staff, and administrators. Instagram allows you to share pictures that are inspiring, and in the comments, you can list the materials and directions on how to complete the activity. Why does this work for families? You are providing families with ideas and activities to do with their children. Update your Instagram frequently with new activities.

Twitter is one of the fastest news sources out there today. It is projected that in 2020 there will be 400 million users (Williams, 2018). With Twitter, you find your “tribe.” These are other professionals you want to interact with and follow. You will find professional topics, resources, and ideas shared by these people, which adds to your knowledge and are valuable tools for your families. With Twitter, you can tweet out ideas, ask questions, provide information to families, and add resources that may help them with parenting, Science, Math topics, etc.

Pinterest is another form of social media that allows you to share creative ways to encourage a child’s development. 250 Million users are on Pinterest every month (Cooper, 2019). This is another way that families can find boards that you have created that are divided by topic so they can easily access the organized information that is needed.

One of the more popular and older forms of social media is Facebook. It has a user base of 1.74 billion (Noyes, 2019). This is a perfect example of why we must diversify our platforms and ensure that we are reaching all user types. Facebook started out in 2004 as a place to share about your life and keep in contact with others you may not see often. Today it is used for much more than that. Scrolling through Facebook posts, you can learn so many different things, so why not ensure that families are seeing the topics and resources you are sharing? Also, share with them things happening in your classroom. 

Youtube Channel is a perfect place for you to house videos of things happening in your classroom or a video announcement that you want your families to watch. This shows them you are a real person, that you are dedicated, and that you want to share ideas and resources with them.

A few others that have great traction that you may want to try out include:

In today’s classroom, teachers must be on top of their game when it comes to keeping up with different forms of communication. They must be innovative and present. Their visibility is everything when engaging and collaborating with families. We have discussed “normal’ types of communication and relationship building and how to leverage social media for your benefit. In the beginning, I said I wanted to change your mindset and challenge you. Which of these challenges will you accept today?

Here are some other great sources:

Using Social Media to Engage Families

Family Engagement Resources

5 Great Ways Schools Can Use Social Media To Engage Their Parents and Families