Social Media Reality Check – A New Head of School’s Perspective
It has been a while since my last post on ESM and a large part of the reason for the hiatus was due to having fully immersed myself in my new role as Head of School at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, MA. One of the biggest tasks a new Head is faced with is learning everything about their new school, and I do mean everything. As I enter into my second year, and we engage in the continued work of sharing our story with our alums, parents and larger arts community, a few things have come into particular focus.
In the early days of social media in schools, it felt as if we were trailblazing our way through uncharted territory, exploring possibilities, experimenting with new technologies and embracing the potential of how this new way of connecting with people could benefit our schools. It was an exhilarating and creative time when the big questions surrounding the use of social media centered around what tools we should be using, what strategies seem to work best and how to manage all of it at the same time. I for one, enjoyed this time, it afforded me the opportunity to be creative and connect with colleagues around the country to explore the endless possibilities, that at the time, felt revolutionary and trans-formative.
It is with that spirit and experience that I have come to see social media not as a panacea, but rather as a new reality that warrants time, resources and strategy, much like every other aspect of our schools. Relegating the social media, and overall communication strategy, I would argue, to one person would be similar to asking your facilities director to manage the operation of your entire campus alone. In order to fully appreciate and maximize the potential of this new reality, as school leaders, we must realize that this passing fad is in fact here, squarely rooted in our schools and in turn, warrants our attention and participation. In the year since I began at Walnut Hill, I have come to accept that my new role requires that I devote my time to new areas and rely on my team to manage the details. However, if our schools are going to fully participate and benefit from this new found ability to connect, as school Heads, our involvement in how these tools are used, the strategy around why, when and how is critical. I am encouraged and energized by many of my peers who have adopted this mindset. I believe that it is this kind of leadership, in the face of consistent change that will provide the right balance between simply “doing” social media to integrating it into the fabric of your school’s operational culture.