With the “new normal” that we are all facing and trying to navigate during the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantines, communicating with our school community has a sense of urgency about it unlike anything we’ve ever faced. We’re all looking for ways to connect. I’m often asked, “Should we use Twitter, email, Instagram, or Facebook?” And I just say, “Yes.”
If you’ve got people who can assist with the different methods of outreach, it’s time to deputize those folks to assist you in staying connected virtually when we can’t connect physically. Use as many modes of communication as your team can effectively manage.
One of the reasons I love Twitter and am a huge fan is because of the number of educators on the platform. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been so many who have already shared resources, ideas, support, and even funny memes to lighten the load. We are truly better together!
Create a School Hashtag
In my digital workbook, How to Tell Your School’s Story on Twitter, I go into detail about creating a school hashtag, along with other ideas for how and when to tweet, create graphics, and connect the school with the community.
Not having and using a school hashtag is a missed opportunity. It’s something I notice when I’m connecting on Twitter: I see a tweet about an event in a school somewhere, a celebration of students or staff—and there’s no hashtag. Using a school hashtag creates a cohesive online presence and enhances your school community’s connection.
Twitter as a Search Engine
School hashtags allow stakeholders to find tweets about your school simply by searching for your chosen word or phrase. Additionally, they can click on the hashtag in the tweet and see all of the tweets containing that specific hashtag. Imagine what it would be like if parents, teachers, students, alumni, and other stakeholders all used the same hashtag when communicating about the awesome things happening in a school’s community! Even in more ordinary times, it’s a powerful way to get the big picture about a school and keep parents informed about successes that may not make it to the newspaper. You can celebrate the librarian who instills a love of reading, a lunchroom worker who knows everyone by name, or a lesson online that results in excellent problem-solving practice. I’m sure you can think of many more examples.
How to Create Your School’s Hashtag
There’s no rule about what you can or cannot use for a school hashtag, but I recommend you keep it pretty short because the characters in the hashtag take up some of the 280 characters allowed in a tweet. Examples include #(schoolname)pride, #go(mascot), or #(schoolinitials)(mascot). This would look like #hixsonpride, #gospartans, or #LHSCowboys, for example. For other ideas, check out different school leaders to see what kind of hashtags they use to promote their schools.
Before deciding on what you will claim as your school hashtag, check to make sure it’s not already being used. You can search Twitter for the potential hashtag, and if it’s not being used or was used only a handful of times a few years ago, go for it!
Four Places to Share Your School’s Hashtag
Once you have decided on your school’s hashtag, you can start sharing it with your community in messages posted to:
- Your school marquee
- Your email signature
- Your Twitter profile
- Your school’s digital newsletter
It’s my hope that these strategies can help you in these current challenging circumstances as well as in the best of times. I would love for you to share what strategies are most effective for you so we can support each other.
Jennifer Hogan is an assistant principal at Hoover High School in Hoover, AL. She is the 2018 Alabama Assistant Principal of the Year and one of three finalists for the 2018 National Assistant Principal of the Year. Visit her blog, The Compelled Educator, and follow her on Twitter @Jennifer_Hogan.