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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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Social Media Engagement to Consider as you Start the New Year

Hello to the 2023-2024 school year! It is here!

 Let’s make this your best school year yet! As this year begins, think of new ways to involve your families in the classroom and new ways to communicate and reach all people. Whether parents are separated, grandparents, or other family members are raising children; everyone needs to be involved in a child’s school success. Maybe it is even your goal to reach other teachers, families, and community members.

As early childhood professionals, we know working with families is a number one priority. Often, teachers have so many other things consuming their time that this becomes secondary. Educators must make building reciprocal relationships a top priority. Building and sustaining a relationship with your families is the best thing you can do to support the children in your classroom.

As times have changed, there are many new ways to communicate with families. When I was in the classroom, I sent home newsletters, such as “What’s Happening this Week,” made phone calls, and set up conferences. I also had parent nights, picnics, open houses, and daily volunteering opportunities. Teachers must be open and honest with families about how the classroom is run, how they can be involved, and what things they should be working on at home.

Next, let’s check out some engaging forms of communication. Don’t forget that your professional communication or social media needs to be separate from your personal accounts.

Forms of Communication to Try:

Social media is prevalent among most people. So, we need to begin ensuring that we are out there as professionals and sharing in as many ways as possible. This does not mean that a teacher should not still send home notes, make phone calls, send letters, and meet face to face whenever possible, as research shows this is the best way to build a relationship with families. The forms of communication that will be discussed in this article are Professional Pinterest, Professional Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Classroom Websites. These forms of communication are overlapping and have the same reach, so that they share with different people on different platforms but convey the same information.

Using a Professional Pinterest:

A professional Pinterest page includes the teacher ONLY pinning early childhood educational topics and ideas. The Pinterest Board needs to be an area that families can go to and find ideas that will help their children at home. Teachers can make a pin board that has current research on any educational topic or issue that children may be displaying. Other boards may contain Math activities to do at home with your child, reading activities, recipes to cook at home with your child, fine motor ideas, gross motor activities, etc. Each board gives families the opportunity to take the concepts you are teaching at school and engage children at home. If a family has a Pinterest account (which is free) or the free APP on their phone, as they scroll, they see the information from you and know there is something they can be working on at home. 

Using a Professional Twitter:

A professional Twitter allows the teacher to follow other early childhood professionals and organizations that tweet wonderful topics, engaging activities, articles, and ideas on all things early childhood. When a family has a Twitter, they are able to follow the teacher’s professional Twitter, see these different ideas and topics, and read about important issues dealing with children and their education. 

Using a Professional Instagram:

Instagram is all about sharing pictures. Pictures can share a story about what is happening in your classroom. Families love to be kept up to date on the day-to-day happenings of their children. You can make your classroom Instagram private so that only families can join. During the day, you can post pictures of children singing, dancing, working, playing, and doing whatever your classroom community is doing. This is a great way to share information with your families about what is happening and keep them in the loop on how their child is working in the community.

Using a Professional Facebook:

Facebook is a wonderful way for many people to communicate, engage, and even learn. Facebook can allow you to share policies, procedures, a word of encouragement, pictures, and even things happening in the classroom community. You can also keep your page private and only add the classroom families for the year. You can go “live” on Facebook and share your day with families. Maybe you are doing a really fun activity and want to show the families you work with! This is a great opportunity to connect with them.

Using a Classroom Website:

Anyone can design a website. Some websites cost money, and some are free. Your website can be built to include anything you want it to. Your classroom website should be professional and share ideas, resources, and concepts that are important to families. Some important things a teacher can include on their website may be the daily schedule, the snack calendar, weekly or monthly calendar, your classroom rules, dress code, engaging ideas for families at home, things you are working on at school, pictures of students (with permission of your school and the families) and anything else you feel is important. A classroom website can also have a blog where you can add newsletters, ideas, articles, or topics you want your families to know about. 

Each of these forms of communication is just more ways to involve and inform families. It would also be a good idea to send each of your social media pages home in a written newsletter and also explain these at a family night. Some people may need help setting up these pages, so they can follow you, but once you have your families on board, you are providing great information and multiple ways to get valuable resources and ideas out there. These forms of communication are just a few ways to keep families involved and current on educational topics and ways to help their students at home.