Saturday, December 14, 2013

Social Media is the new Fridge

Image via Jones Sign
Think back to when you were a kid.  Stuff would come home from school, out of the backpack, and in my house, would go immediately to the refrigerator.   My mom used to display everything.  Draw a circle on a piece of paper…fridge.  Paint a line on construction paper…fridge.  The one time I got 100% on a spelling test…fridge.  As time went on, essays, my sister's grade reports, school pictures (fashion faux pas and mullets included) were all affixed on the central location in the kitchen.  The place where everyone would go for nourishment was also the place they went to get an emotional pick me up.  Many of the good things going on were prominently displayed in that place.  Anyone who came to the house would inevitably stop at the fridge, and the displays would spark a conversation.  It was a great place to tell the story.

Social media has brought the conversation that happened in the kitchen to the masses.  The pictures that were held by magnets are now posted and shared through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. The opportunity to share has grown exponentially.  Iphoto streams can be shared with anyone and the story told through pictures.  Obviously these feeds/streams can become saturated, but the fact that our refrigerator was so covered in paper and pictures lends itself to the same concept.  We WANT to share…we are PROUD of our kids and deep down we want others to know about it.

image via
Parents want to be connected and want to brag about what their kids are doing in school.  They want to be proud of the place they send their children…who wouldn’t?!?!  We have a number of people following our district Twitter and Facebook feeds, but the real gold comes with the feeds specific to classrooms.  Some of our teachers took the leap last year and helped parents sign up for Twitter.  The teachers post often to keep families up to date on the great things going on in the classroom.  They don’t try to meet a quota of how many times they post or count to see who has been in pictures and who has not…they just post…a lot.  The feedback has been great!  Essentially, families now have a running story of what happens in the classroom. This is happening all over the country.  Leaders like Tony Sinanis and Ben Gilpin flood their Twitter feeds with the great things happening in their schools.  Matt Gomez and Pernille Ripp are not only displaying what happens in their classroom, but are allowing students to own the process through posts and blogs.  The list clearly does not end there…hundreds of teachers across the country are connecting with their families through social media…but what if it was in the thousands…or more!?  When someone asks what is going on in school, the evidence is right in your pocket…all the time.  It can be shared with family, shown to coworkers, and provide a little smile when a day gets tough.  Stories are told day in and day out in schools…sharing those stories with the world is a great way to connect to families.

There will never be a time in education where someone walks into my office and says… “Wow, I just don’t know what to do with all of this time.”  We expect a great deal from our group…and they deliver.  Connecting with parents is simply not optional.  How teachers connect with parents has been based on comfort zone and time.  As we move into an environment where the fridge has turned into a phone, it is essential to find parents where they live socially.  Twitter and Instagram will turn into something else in a few years, and we will be ready.  We want the conversations around what happens in our school to promote the positive things going on at every turn.  The medium will change…but the commitment to creating opportunities for parents to connect to what we do will not.  That connection can help the conversation that has happened at kitchen tables since the dawn of time…

Parent: How was your day?
Student: Good.
Parent: What did you do?
Student: I don’t know.

I used to live that discussion every day.  Using social media as the new fridge swings that conversation.  When kids own the process, know there is a connection to home, and can take pride in what they do because they see it all the time, their response goes from “I don’t know” to “I don’t know where to start”.  Go Crickets.


  1. Joe,

    Really a fantastic post. I love it when my own boys come home and are so excited to share the stories of their classrooms. As a parent I feel proud of our educators and happy for my kids.

    Your post made me chuckle, growing up my own parents put everything on the refrigerator...just as you described...but now in our own home we have hardly's now all on phones, tablets and scrapbooks. Life is too short to wallow in the mud. We must get out there and share the greatness that occurs every day!

    Thank you for being a positive voice.

  2. Thanks Ben! Appreciate you reading. Great opportunity to share with our community. Our teachers are crushing the communication piece...amazing connections with families. Really proud of them. Go Crickets!

  3. Joe- waaaay awesome post! As I share, my own son comes home with worksheets with the old standard "gold star" and mom and I try to celebrate it. Only to find at the end of the year, we have a big box of paper - we asked him, "what in here has value to you?" his reply took my breath away the first time "ah, none of it- toss it". This really sent my brain into a tail-spin - "NONE of it?" He stated, I do what is asked, but as for keeping it, why? As compared to when his own "Youtube channel dedicated to game tutorials (mostly minecraft) is down - the house is in crisis! He will say, "my followers won't know how to handle X level". He is 8 years old. So if we don't start rethinking the standard "gold star" our kids won't find value in their parents' refrigerator post because nobody sees it but them.

    1. Thanks, Dave! My kids are the same way…they love to invent. Minecraft is a favorite here as well!

  4. I love reading about educators who present social media in a positive light. It's such an asset, and yet it is still underutilized by people in education out of fear - fear that they will be "too connected" or that "bad things happen on Twitter." My district has fully embraced social media as a communication device, but it has yet to reach down to the individual instructional level. Thanks for giving me yet another example to throw out to faculty in my building to show them how Twitter can help connect them not only with their students but with the greater community. You are doing good work!

    1. Thanks Tim! We have enjoyed the journey so far. I think you are absolutely correct in saying the tools are underutilized because of fear. I still have fear, but need to trust the process and feel that the good far outweighs the instance where someone makes a mistake. Appreciate the thoughts...if there is anything else I can help with in regards to getting the word our or resources let me know.