Conversation Fodder for the Fashionably Late

Welcome to the party!

As a new contributor to edSocialMedia, I want to reach out to all the readers who feel like they are arriving late to the social media party. Don’t worry – you’re not alone. And you’ve arrived at the perfect time!


It was only 8 months ago that I was tasked with tackling this beast of a phenomenon and, although I feel like I can speak the language and keep abreast of general trends, every time I scan my Twitter feed or browse Mashable/Facebook/edSocialMedia, I am reminded of how little I know. Or in cocktail party terms, I hear tidbits of all the great conversations occurring on the other side of the room.


However having been in and around schools since I was born – both of my parents work at independent schools in Baltimore – I think (key word choice there) I am honing in on the blend between kids using :) and schools spending $. Plus, when you come late to a party you can slip in, listen casually to what people are talking about, and chime in when you feel ready.


So for those of you who are smart enough to join the social media party at a fashionably late point in time – say, now – here are some things what you might want to consider talking about (and that won’t make you sound like an idiot) when you join the conversation:


DISCLAIMER: My apologies for all the metaphors, but they are easy to understand when you are new.

In general:

  • Social media is everything and nothing at the same time. It’s like a cloud – you can see it, it does stuff, but you can’t touch it or pin it down. Plus, it’s always moving.
  • Social media is also a necessary evil. You have to have/do/use it because “everyone” else is, even if no one really knows what having/doing/using it always means. Don’t let this freak you out.

For schools in general:

  • Developing a list of goals or a mission statement specifically about social media and its role in your school community is essential for keeping everyone on campus aligned.
  • Similarly, tough decisions must be made to determine what role you want social media to play in your community. News and information? Admission/recruiting? Alumni connections? All of the above?
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to social media. Just make sure you’re driving a nice car with a full tank of gas.

For teachers:

  • It’s good-teacher practice anyway, but actually talk with your kids and let them make suggestions. You’ll be amazed at the ideas they come up with about how to use social media in your class.
  • Don’t ignore social media. Even if you’re scared and nervous about what to do, or have no idea what it is, see the previous suggestion.

For administrators:

  • Learn the vocabulary of social media first. It’ll be a throwback to your high school years when flashcards were useful. (They still are, by the way.)
  • See the previous section and substitute “teacher” for “students.”
  • Dip your toes first or jump in the deep end – but just get in the pool already. The more you are personally involved, the more engaging and less burdensome the process will be. In fact, it might even be fun.

Whether you’re a wallflower, the life of the party, the host, or arriving late just like I did – don’t worry.

The social media party isn’t ending anytime soon.


(Photo credit:

Mark Schindler

Assistant Director of Admission and Financial Aid at Mercersburg Academy

Mark is an assistant director of admission and financial aid at Mercersburg Academy, as well as the head coach of the boys’ varsity lacrosse team. He is also the founder of Nexus Lacrosse ( / @NexusLacrosse /, a series of summer programs and consulting designed to help youth lacrosse players prepare for varsity-level competition. He graduated from St. Paul’s (MD) in 2000 and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and three varsity letters in lacrosse from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Before starting his teaching career, Mark worked for a small educational marketing and publications firm in Baltimore before moving to Newport News, Virginia, in 2006 to teach and coach at Hampton Roads Academy. There he taught AP psychology, forensic science, and biology, and coached varsity lacrosse and JV soccer and basketball. While living in VA, Mark earned an M.Ed. in educational leadership from William & Mary. He currently lives on campus at Mercersburg with his wife Abby and daughter Liddy.