Communication is KeyNov 01, 2017 ● By Aj Addae
According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 24 percent of teens go online almost constantly. The study also shows that 79 percent of parents who use social media agree that they get useful information from their networks. Since 2012, the FISD has grasped the innovative gravity of social media use not only in the classroom, but as a tool of reforming mass communication tactics. Although a tremendous amount of the success can be attributed to the work of the administrators, parents and teachers, social media and a large online presence offering beneficial communication can be accredited as key components to the district’s overall success. The way students, parents and administrators view social media use varies, but, overall, it is important that the district continues to utilize social media to get the attention of students (especially since they already spend so much time online), keep important information accessible to parents and share updates and news in a real-time manner.
Look around the halls between classes at any school and you will undoubtedly see students distracted by their smartphones, Snapchatting or sharing photos on Instagram. The trick for the district is how they can make their mark on this part of students’ lives. “The FISD uses social media for an immediate interaction for our community, just like anyone else would. If there is information we would need to get out there quickly, an event going on that we want to share with the entire public or even a big recognition talking about one of our campuses, students or teachers, then we use social media platforms just to get that message out. It is kind of like bending the old school style of email,” says Amanda McCune, the executive director of communications at the FISD. Ms. McCune explains that the FISD uses Facebook and Twitter in order to reach the large audience of the rapidly-growing school district, which ultimately yields positive results. With a whopping 17,000+ followers on their Facebook page, along with an astounding 62,700+ followers on Twitter, using multiple mediums of social media has proven that the FISD’s communications team covers a vast audience in which diversified methods of communication are necessary. In addition to size, Ms. McCune shares how immediate communication is achieved through multiple mediums. “We only have 140 characters on Twitter, so we like to utilize Facebook as much as we can,” she says. “Social media helps us, as a district, tell our story a little bit better,” she further continues. “Before social media, we sent out e-newsletters or had an article in a magazine. It helps us tell our story in real time, instead of in delayed time.”
Because of the FISD’s populated nature, news comes from almost every corner. Oftentimes, teachers and administrators seek ways to communicate news to large audiences, such as parents and students. In fact, a common theme that surrounds the administrative level is Frisco’s attraction of consistent good news. Ms. McCune mentions a recent example in which good news surfaced on social media. “Recently, SAT and ACT scores were released, and we proudly shared how the FISD has been ranked high in both the state and nationally,” she explains.
The bearing of news, however, does not start and end at the administrative building. According to Shawn Perry, the principal of Trent Middle School, social media “captures pieces of the educational pie.”
“We are big on making sure that we have a presence on social media,” he continues. When asked about the response to social media presence, Mr. Perry speaks proudly. “Many parents are often grateful. We have a weekly newsletter that is a one-page document every Friday. We know they are busy, so we make sure we keep good communication. In fact, we use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Remind101 and email. We would rather parents have the option to delete something, as opposed to not providing the information at all,” he says.
Like the FISD administration, because of a multiple social media approach, Trent Middle School’s online platforms serve specific purposes to ensure efficiency in communication. Mr. Perry shares that the key to utilizing social media to communicate positively and effectively with the community is to employ transparency regarding students’ efforts inside and outside of the classroom. “We share everything. We try to be as transparent as possible. Anything from advertising events to advertising students’ efforts. For example, you will see in our social media, we use #TrentSWAT (Students With A Task). Everyone in our community belongs to SWAT. When our students do something, our teachers are out there, we are always saying something like ‘#TrentSWAT on the scene.’ We use that hashtag for almost everything we put out there for parents to find it.” Mr. Perry and the Trent administrators are going above and beyond in electronic communication with students and parents. This can be even seen on YouTube, with a helpful tour of Trent provided by Mr. Perry as a resource for new students and parents to use, or for the community to marvel at. “Only social media can do that,” Mr. Perry adds.
From the student’s perspective, social media proves to be an academic resource in addition to communication. “I am able to quickly find small bits of information about school or upcoming events quickly without having to navigate through an entire website. I am also able to see things happening at my own school,” says Lauren Bridwell, a junior at Lone Star High School. “I feel that it is an efficient way to share information to students and parents.” Ms. Bridwell also shares that social media serves as a source of academic enhancement that utilizes specific techniques and applications in order to encourage creativity in the classroom and among peers.
Ultimately, parents and students can expect to find real-time information through social media that is shared by teachers and administration. They can also find great opportunities to be involved in the community. Families are busy, but that does not mean they are not looking to stay updated on information from the schools.
“We are having a little bit of fun with our social media right now that people can expect to see,” Ms. McCune says, regarding the role of the future of social media for the district. Overall, parents and students are encouraged to utilize social media outlets provided by their schools. Additionally, as students’ educational careers progress, parents and students of the community can continue to look for positive developments in social media in regard to overall communication.
Are you as plugged in as you should be? If you have children in the FISD, make sure you subscribe to all the district’s social media platforms. You never know … you just might see your child being recognized for success or find important news you were previously unaware of. Learn all about the district’s use of social media and additional communication processes at friscoisd.org/departments/communications.