April 24, 2020

8 Tips for Building An Online Community

Learn from other inspiring educators how you can create a more connected community through social media.
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Social media is a powerful tool for keeping your school community thriving. Here are 8 tips for building your community over social media!

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For many of us who didn’t post on the regular in the “before times,” and even for those who were accustomed to using social media, creating that feeling of community in a virtual environment is a challenge. We’re in a new era, and that calls for different types of content. 

So we gathered some of our favorite examples of social outreach from the education community. We wanted to find the key ingredients that make for effective social posts during this period of lockdown, and they all came from you: teachers and administrators who are finding fresh new ways to keep kids and families engaged, online. 

1. Create a shared post. 

We’ve seen a lot of community-style posts popping up lately: multiple videos of different teachers stitched together, or a grid of photos shared as one post. This is a great way to illustrate the fact that we’re all still a team, even if we haven’t actually seen each other in weeks. https://twitter.com/HCES_1/status/1246518786003517444 

If things are feeling stale after a week or so, try having everyone submit a photo based on a weekly theme, like Crazy Hair Day at @FairmeadowsElem. https://twitter.com/FairmeadowsElem/status/1250166126488797184

2. Feature your students.

A lot of kids will jump at the chance to be featured - so hand over the mic! Student-led content will help mix things up, and allows them to take an active role in bringing the spirit of the classroom online. 

@DCSSouthside did this by asking kids to take turns reciting the pledge of allegiance for the rest of the school. 

https://twitter.com/DCSSouthside/status/1250017561900711937 

And @MedfieldHeights invites their students to read the morning announcements. https://twitter.com/MedfieldHeights/status/1250382759970865153 

3. Embrace the memes. 

They become memes for a reason, right? Quarantine has many of us on social media more than usual, and that’s led to some solid meme trends, like “me and the homies after quarantine,” balcony musicians, and of course: the #Don’tRushChallenge. Don’t be afraid to turn to a fun meme when you (inevitably) run out of ideas for content to post. 

Below are some particularly stellar examples of the Don’t Rush Challenge, teacher-style. (Wondering what that song is? “Don’t Rush,” by Young T and Bugsey).

https://twitter.com/love4literacy_/status/1251168485595586560 

https://twitter.com/HeadMagnetMS/status/1250122471929532419

4. Cross-post on different platforms. 

In a perfect world, we’d craft each post separately to perform well on every individual platform. For those who have been doing that, keep it up. We commend you! 

But realistically, many of us default to posting primarily on one or two favored platforms. Right now, it’s important to share your content wherever your students and families are - even if you don’t have the time to re-format pictures and videos. So go ahead and share your TikTok video on Twitter, or link up your Instagram and Facebook so posts are automatically shared on both platforms. 

5. Let your creativity shine. 

Teachers of all grades and subjects are going above and beyond to get students engaged through a screen. If you figured out an innovative way to teach long division online, discovered a nifty Google Drive hack or just donned a wig to keep the kids interested, highlight those moments! 

@laytonelementaryschool posted this screen grab on instagram, capturing a clever way to take science class online.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-0CbtgpX2l/ 

6. Share your real life.   

We may not have the time and energy to write up a lesson synopsis every day, or take a video during class. If you haven’t posted in a couple of days, just share a snapshot of your own life. Whether it’s your kids making a mess trying to bake cookies or the cat blundering into the screen during a teacher meeting, every post will help your community feel more connected to you. 

@toocoolformiddleschool shared this post of her son excitedly joining a Zoom meeting on instagram, and it’s a perfect reminder that sweet moments happen during lockdown - they just might look a little different. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-SSw1uD9bW/ 

7. Don’t overthink it. 

Do you ever find yourself about to tap Tweet, only to stop and realize that your post isn’t quite worthy of sharing with the Twitter-verse? So have we, and literally everyone else on social media. But sometimes the simplest update is the most effective. 

Especially now, with everyone separated from our classrooms and forced into a new routine, it’s important to have frequent, in-the-moment updates to feel connected. So don’t worry if you didn’t add any fancy text overlays or forgot to add music. Go ahead and post it.

8. Follow your fellow educators for inspiration.

The best tips, tricks and inspiration have always come from the teachers and administrators who make it work every single day. Follow other educators and schools to stay inspired and come up with fresh ideas for your own posts. 

Here are some educators who are maximizing the power of Twitter and Instagram to boost the energy of the classroom.‍

Twitter users:

@alicekeeler

@AlexGreenElem

@FairmeadowsELem

@melissa_lime

@E_Sheninger

@golfcrest_HISD

@brenda_laino

@PS41R

@cconachieve

@dreamlakeapopka

@eastgate6thgradecenter

@gpa_grandave

@schooldiscovery

‍Instagram users:

@thechitownteacher

@toocoolformiddleschool

@laytonelementaryschool

@the615teacher

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