As Headteacher of a primary school I have been blogging for just over two years. The main aim was to engage parents and the wider community in showing them the learning that was taking place and how this was moving the school forward. A number of other positive aims were also achieved including: showing parents that I was a different style of leader to my predecessor, building further lines of communication and also creating an online evidence base for OFSTED to trawl. With this in mind I created ht1parkhill.wordpress.com and so far in just over two years there have been over 40,000 hits.
The aim was always to roll out blogging to each phase in the school and to allow the children and staff to personalise the experience further. The only problem was that I kept on putting off implementing this with staff (this usually happens when I’m unsure of the potential impact) because I know that, whilst WordPress can be easy for some to pick up, it can also be quite challenging for others. I started to wonder if there was an easier and more effective solution. The vision was about sharing learning and the journey the children were on – I began to question if WordPress was the right format because blogs of this nature take a while to write (especially for staff who already have marking and planning to do) and in the worst case scenario a child may show the teacher a great piece of work but, due to other pressures, this may not get added to the blog until the following week and in this case the impact of the learning is lost. The conclusion that we came to was that a traditional blog is great for the HT or a senior leader to relay information but there are better formats out there for showcasing work with the best being Twitter.
The advantages of Twitter are: it’s not time consuming for staff (max of 140 characters), it’s easy to use and access, it works well on a mobile device and most importantly it is instantaneous. With a Tweet taking no more than 30 seconds to write it is the ideal format for showcasing learning – we live in an age of social media where people expect instant recognition. Twitter is great at providing instant feedback and, when a child has produced an outstanding piece of work, there is instant verification and recognition that they have achieved great learning. This is where Twitter has the edge over Facebook and WordPress. Below is an example of a Tweet referencing learning and top tips for showcasing children’s work on Twitter.
- Make sure that you have upskilled parents (we do this with workshops during parents evening).
- Create a Twitter account for each phase in school.
- Always photograph the learning and add a sentence to place the learning into context.
- Use only first names of the children so as to not give too much personal information away.
- Use a hashtag. We use #ParkHillPrimary because that way if a parent wants to see learning from Nursery through to Y6 for the day they simply have to search the hashtag.
- Ensure that you have enough mobile devices around school to capture learning.
- Build in time for staff training – we use five minutes at the start of a staff meeting to practice Tweeting.
- Place a minimum expectation for how many Tweets should be generated a day – we started with a minimum of one and worked upwards from there when staff were comfortable.
If you are interested in the learning at Park Hill then follow @ParkHillPrimary