Social Media Principal

How to Tweet, blog and mobile app your way to increased parent and community engagement.

Joe Mazza is the principal of Knapp elementary school in Pennsylvania.




Joe Mazza


Workshop Notes

Read TVO’s article from the Conference, “The Social Media Principal”

Prior to setting up a social media school

Joe stresses that before jumping into social media it is crucial to your social media success to make connections through face-to-face relationships with the families and community of your school. He believes once people are a part of your school community, then they can become a part of it virtually. Therefore the principal needs to take on a strong role as “relationship builder” and promote the engagement of parents and community.

He explained his guiding core values are focused on “Shared”. He offered a few guiding principles:

  • Making all relationships as equal partnerships;
  • Parents need to know you care;
  • Parents are excellent resources – use their expertise;
  • Not making it only “ok”to come if you want – make it clear that we need you;
  • Schools need to be family friendly. Work with them not at them;
  • Post your family engagement core values in the school – always building capacity;
  • Schools must meet parents where they are if they are committed to building and maintaining partnerships;
  • Allow for two-way communication;
  • Make yourself available/visible…the less steps that parents have to take to get to you the better in building relationships (he explained how he changed the set up of his office to make it more accessible for parents to come and talk with him);
  • We have to role model positively for everyone;
  • Create a school that kids want to be there;
  • Don’t loss track of the face to face; and
  • Remember: I am the principal not the president.

Overall: Collaborative, transparent, partnerships, relationships, and relationship trust are all crucial.

He states, “Underlining all these principles, remember you are working for kids” Keep this mantra in your vision and everything you do. Some values he supports to support kids are:

  • Everyday is a new day.
  • Give them the 5-star treatment.
  • Eclectic population – so many needs to address and care for.
  • Use an inquiry based approach and understand the needs of each student and their families.
  • ALL kids need to represented.

Joe’s suggestions in setting up your school as a social media school

  • Start on the right foot. Know your parents and what will work.
  • Always ask yourself: What works? What doesn’t? Next steps?
  • Build research to guide your actions – look for the best schools and see what they are doing with social media.
  • Start slow – there is an overwhelming amount of resources, but choose one and then add.
  • Invest in communication technology.

A few great social media suggestions from Joe to increase parent engagement

  • Use Skype for school meetings and increase participation.
  • You can create a collegial newsletter using Google document.
  • Create documents that are mobile friendly.
  • Language line – it’s a telephone service that provides translators.
  • Promote school through twitter and a blog.
  • eFACE – electronic family and community engagement.
  • Google voice for parent messages.
  • Streaming school events for that parents unable to physically attend school events
  • Tweeter Tuesday – have a monitor of live tweets for students in classes on a live monitor in school
  • Teachers Tweeting to parents what their child did at school today…provide a question to increase conversation with parent and their children about school.
  • Chat rooms – have a scheduled time to do chats…learn form each other. (PTchats)

Other great suggestions

  • Ed camp for teachers leading teachers in a un-conference format
  • Ed Camp for parents…what you want to learn and they sign up just to talk…not a presentation.
  • Give a bumper sticker of Twitter information
  • Be a twitter follower of people who present great ideas such as mystery Skype.
  • Get involved in ED chats – every week you can listen online for ideas.
  • For many other great ideas visit Joe’s blogspot.

Additional resources
Twitter: Joe_mazza