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Social Media Institute: Social Media FOR Schools

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, AASSA’s Social Media Coordinator, Educational Consultant & Coach

Cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

I spent an intense day with administrators (Heads of School, Directors of communication, admission) at the AASSA (Association of American Schools in South America) Social Media Institute discussing social media FOR schools (not social media IN schools).

You can find the documentation including resources and examples in this post.

Description: Gone are the days of having to discuss the existence and importance of a social media presence for schools. Faculty, students, parents, stakeholders, potential families and employees, and a people-network, vital to your organization, are expecting interaction, curated information and just in time news updates. Who is the lead storyteller at your school? Social Media has changed the way we communicate, curate, archive and disseminate information. Schools no longer push out content as a one sided conversation. Who is overseeing what, when and how something is being said about your school? How do schools harness the power of social media and embed authentic, collaborative, and networked communication, learning and marketing? The day was divided into 4 sessionsSocial Media 101: Introduction to Social Media concept. Review the social landscape of the year 2015. What does an integrated and interconnected network mean for your school? What can social media do for your school in terms of learning, marketing, outreach, faculty recruiting, retention and professional development? Social Media Platforms and Tools: Look at the “current” social media platforms. We will highlight the nuances of each. Which social media platform is best suited for a specific purpose? How do you streamline various platforms? What types of media or information is being shared? Strategic Social Media Planning: Develop a social media strategy for your school. Know your constituents and know the kinds of content they want and need. How do you curate resources customized to their needs? How do you connect via social media your faculty to experts and colleagues to collaborative grow and learn as professionals? How do you grow your social media presence and network? What do you want the world to know about your school? What is your school’s digital footprint? What does your online brand communicate about the school? Social Media Hands-on: Work on your own professional social media presence. Experience the power of social networking. Learn to create engaging content (photos, videos, questions, mission driven, etc). Experiment with social media writing genres, #hashtags, visual design tools, digital storytelling and strategically grow your network.

Here is the accompanying slidedeck to the workshop for your to review, share and use, as your school is starting or continuing their journey into social media.


My first question was to find out HOW schools were ALREADY using social media. I asked participants to share via a Today’s Meet backchannel. I realized that there is a difference in responses between WHERE (as in social media platform) the school “is on” (much easier to respond to) and HOW a school is using social media.


I also asked attendees to share their social media comfort level, as well as their school’s and personal (as in professional educator) social media presence by filling out a google form.

Here is the landscape of participating AASSA schools social media presence


School Websites:

Below you will find the social media presence participants shared… a perfect opportunity to view, notice, consider and be inspired how social media is used for branding (personal/professional and as a school), as well as being able to “harvest” feeds and usernames to build and grow your own network.


  1. Barry Déquanne (Head of School American School of Brasilia)

  2. Nicholaas Mostert ( Middle School Principal, Carol Morgan School)

  3. Carol Morgan Newsflash blog


  1. AASSA Member Schools (AASSA curated Twitter List)

  2. International Educators (AASSA curated Twitter List)

  3. International Administrators (AASSA curated Twitter List)

Twitter Hashtags:

Facebook Pages:






Social media FOR schools is about storytelling. We are also telling the story of ourselves as life long learners, as educators, as professionals. In order to make our stories more visual, we took a look at how we can incorporate the cultural phenomenon of the selfies to put ourselves into the stories, a way to document that we were part of an event, of a learning experience or a process. For some participants, it was the first time taking a selfie.



By taking a look at what the questions or concerns are, schools will have a great starting point to continue (and share) conversations back at their schools



Participants were also challenged to think about the story of their school. In a world, were potential readers and viewers make a decision if they will read, listen, view or watch what you are sharing, the skills to be able to summarize, be brief and visual are highly valued. How would they tell the story in 15 seconds! Watch a few examples in the video below.




The backchannel on Today’s Meet continued to prove a valuable platform as it was used to share:

  1. connection requests

  2. further resources

  3. questions around conversations to be continued

  4. examples mentioned in conversations

Discussions around POLICY seemed to be a priority. I encouraged participants to take a look at these two policy examples and consider the difference between Acceptable Use Policy and Responsible Use Policy


Take a look at further resources below with list of questions to guide developing a policy.


Recommended reading list for Social Media FOR Schools:

  1. Show your Work by Austin Kleon

  2. The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki & Peg Fitzpatrick

  3. The Power of Branding by Tony Sinaris & Joseph Sanfelippo

  4. Digital Leadership by Eric Sheninger

  5. The Power of Visual Storytelling by Ekaterina Walter & Jessica Gioglio



While newbies practiced to summarize, curate or connect their resources, thoughts and ideas in 140 characters on paper… others, with a Twitter account already, were encouraged to participate by using the #AASSA hashtag to document, take notes and share out.



Interested in continuing the conversation about social media FOR schools? Share HOW you are using social media for your school in the comment, use the #socialmedia4schools or #AASSA (For International schools) hashtag.


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