Take the case of Ted Holmes, Director of Admissions and Marketing at Meridian School in Seattle. Here’s his story:
For many parents, getting kids to talk about what they did in school is much like pulling teeth.
“You ask them what happened in school, and they reply, ‘oh, nothing,’” said Ted Holmes, a parent and elementary school administrator. “It’s a lot like being in a black hole.”
So Holmes, who is Director of Admissions and Marketing for Meridian School, came up with a novel idea. Give parents a window into the classroom using Twitter, the popular instant messaging site.
Over the past few weeks, teachers at the independent K-5 school in Seattle’s Wallingford District have set up Twitter accounts and are sending periodic tweets from their classrooms. Tweets are meant to be short, 140 character answers to the question: “What are you doing?”
Parents can elect to receive tweets on their cell phones. At the end of the day, the short messages from the classroom can be “a conversation starter” between parents and kids, according to Holmes.
On a recent school day, Kindergarten teacher Julie Hannan tweeted about the day’s lessons. “Today we are scientists. We looked at soil, flowers, and planted seeds.”
Another teacher described the rules of a game called “Crocodile,” which had been invented on the playground that day by Kindergarten boys.
First grade teacher Eilene Glasgow wrote: “We had a fun hour learning a folk dance.”
Paul Fadoul, a second grade teacher, posed this question on a recent dispatch: “Do you know the difference between a planet’s rotation and revolution? Ask your second grader!”
The school elected to use Twitter over other social networking sites because Twitter is fast and easy to use, and because the messages by definition have to be short. Teachers already have a lot on their plates, and the school did not want the new assignment to create an additional burden. Not all teachers and parents were eager to embrace the technology. A lot of older parents in particular “didn’t see the point,” Holmes said.
But now that the school’s Twitter accounts are up and running, “it’s interesting to see how many people are eager to get on,” said Holmes.
The school regards its move to Twitter as something of an experiment. Twitter may be all the rage today, but it’s not necessarily the perfect solution to the needs of teachers and families. The only way to really know is to try it.
In general, elementary schools have not been quick to embrace social media, according to Holmes, and that may be a mistake.
“The people who have young, school age kids today are becoming more interested in communicating through social media,” said Holmes. “We want to show that we are not being left behind.”
About Meridian School
The Meridian School is a independent K-5 elementary school in Seattle’s Wallingford We are accredited by the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools and a member of the National Association of Independent Schools. neighborhood with a total of 186 students.
The Meridian School
4649 Sunnyside Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98116, 206-632-7154