December 23: Social Media

Spotlight on Schools: Social Media

23195449-300x226 December 23, 2016 — Hello Black River Falls Community, this is Dr. Shelly Severson with the School District of Black River Falls here to share this week’s installment of our Spotlight on Schools!

As public schools exist to serve their communities, we are constantly challenged with ways that we can keep our community involved and informed as to what happens on a regular basis. These radio spots are a part of this effort, as well as the Tiger Tribune which is delivered in the Shopper four times per year to all residents. In this day and age, social media is often relied on as a primary source for receiving news and information. There are many ways that social media can be effectively used in our schools. We try to use it to tell our story about the many wonderful activities and accomplishments that happen every day.

In the School District of Black River Falls, many of our educators have voluntarily learned how to use Facebook and Twitter. On a daily basis, the district’s’ facebook page is updated with pictures, comments, reminders, news, and other content that helps our schools work to “tell our story.”

While the number of people that have “liked” the SDBRF on Facebook and our twitter handle has increased over the past years, parent and community members are certainly not required to have a Twitter account to keep track of what is happening in our schools. That’s why we supplement this information through the newspaper and the other sources we’ve talked about.

While there are some nice benefits to using social media in our schools, community and personal lives, there are some real concerns related to the challenges brought on by this newer technology. While most users of social media tools use them responsibly and appropriately, some choose to use it to lodge complaints or vent about a concern.

As a school district, we are definitely in the people and service business. Everyone within the district works hard to meet or exceed expectations for all of our students, parents, and community members. While the district serves over 1,700 students, it is only natural that there will be some instances of disagreement and discontent. It is during these times that the use of social media can often become a problem that sometimes leads to toxic comments based on misinformation, that can inflame an already troubled situation.

While most school-related concerns can be addressed informally by contacting the teacher, coach, principal, or superintendent, our school board has adopted a formal complaint policy to be used when the situation warrants. Through these established procedures, our school district is able to address concerns in an efficient, systematic, and professional manner.

Unfortunately, in our instant gratification society, we can recall some very public instances of ineffective and inefficient problem solving that damages our schools, programs, staff, and students. In some cases, people have rushed to judgement over comments made on social media that were based on partial, or inaccurate information.

We’ve made a pledge in Black River Falls to very publicly celebrate our successes, and quietly and efficiently address any of our areas of challenge. I came across a posting from the Surrey County Council in the United Kingdom in a sample letter to parents:

“As a school, we encourage parents to support us with the education and well-being of their children. If at any time parents feel that they have issues regarding their child’s education, they should first contact the teacher, coach, or administrator. As a community, we should discourage the use of social media to criticize and make unsubstantiated comments about the school, other children, or any members of the staff.”

In the School District of Black River Falls we will continue to do our best to work with the students, parents and community members that we serve. We will continue to expand the use of social media in our school district in an attempt to tell our story and help you to be a part of it. We hope that parents and other SDBRF stakeholders will help us encourage, and demonstrate for our children, what it is like to be positive digital role models.

As always, if you have any questions about this, or anything else within the District, don’t hesitate to contact me. Also, I have another quote for you from American Education Week. This one is from our Band Director…Paula Hardie. She says:

It’s great being a part of a community where you see the colleagues you work with, the students you teach, and the families of the students outside of school as well: around town, at stores, and at community functions.

Thank you so much for your support of the School District of Black River Falls! Go Tigers!


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