Sunday, March 27, 2011

To Facebook or Not to Facebook?

We use Facebook and love it!  I find that it is an easy way to share the values of the school.  I rarely use it to advertise events, and try to focus more on giving families gifts- items that they will find useful at that moment.  I think of it as a way to reach out to them.  So every day for the past two weeks I've done a Purim countdown, sharing a recipe, costume idea, book recommendation, or anything else they might be able to use at home.  I might take a 20 second video of the music teacher teaching a new song, or the rabbi leading the Shabbat blessings, or a photo of an inspiring set up in a classroom. 

My experience is that Facebook really allows you to get into the home and reach people in an accessible, easy way.  A parent told me that after reading some of the articles I posted she renewed her interest in education and has decided to go back to school to become a teacher.  It's that powerful.  In my opinion, Facebook inspires more face to face conversation.  For example, parents come in already knowing about the song their child sang in music class that morning and mention to the teacher that it was their favorite song as a child, or ask for a copy to use at home.  I think it depends on your community and how you use it, but I would expect it to deepen connections, not minimize them.

We have an open group, so I don't post photos of children's faces.  I find it to be a creative challenge to take photos that avoid faces.  It is amazing how much action you can capture in hands, feet, backs, and materials. 

If you decide to use Facebook,  I think it would be a shame to disable the comments (and I don't think you even can).  The goal of doing this by Facebook and not by email is to encourage the building of community through the comments.  That's the fun of it.  The comments are what makes Facebook a unique way to communicate and what helps bring people together to make connections with each other.  You start the conversation with a post, which you hope will draw people in and keep them coming back.  One of the markers of a good post is that it gets comments (both on Facebook and face to face at pick up.)  Facebook will even measure the percentage of people that comment so you can track their engagement.

There is a particular technique to a good Facebook page, and my recommendation is to start by noticing the things going on around the school that you want others to notice as well, and highlighting them.  Today a class visited a nursing home to deliver shalach manot and I snapped a photo and noted that they were doing a Purim mitzvah.  It really helps families notice all the work we do to foster their children's learning.

If you want to check out our page, you can see it here.

1 comment:

  1. You have completely changed the way I am using my very new Facebook page. For the past few days I have been posting a quick comment and one picture during the school day. While it hasn't yet gotten any parent comments on the page, I am hearing from them personally.

    I am also having fun taking pictures that don't include faces. You are right, it is challenging but gives me a whole new way to look at things.

    I want to find a good balance in the captions between highlighting the work at the school and something fun and catchy. Working on it...

    Check out the page and share your thoughts, The Preschool Place at Congregation Dor Tamid.