Saturday, July 18, 2015

Is Social Media the Key to Communicating Education Leadership?

Perhaps the most important thing leaders in any area of expertise can do is communicate. They must clearly express certain messages to the people they lead and the people they hope to impact:

  • brand of the organization
  • personal brand of the leader
  • mission and purpose of the organization
  • how the organization will accomplish the mission
This past week I had the privilege of working with some high school student leaders from all across the country as part of the Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Student Leadership Institute in Walt Disney World. The institute is called Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow (BOLT). From the outset at the evening kickoff event, I told the students we would be communicating their week-long journey of leadership to the world on social media.

Communication is not just something we should be doing in the classroom, at faculty meetings, or at conferences. If education is to move forward in a meaningful way that includes the perspectives of educators, parents, and students then communication must include social media. After all, that is the way our children are communicating every day.

The BOLT Student Leadership Institute is a great example of the power of communication through social media. If you'd like to see a multimedia record of our student leaders' adventures and learning, just look to social media platforms and search #BOLT2015. You can find pictures, videos, blog posts, and student comments:


If scrolling through the images and videos of the student leaders' busy smiling faces isn't proof enough that their experience and energy is worth sharing, then read on.

As we were saying our farewells to the kids and they were saying their farewells to one another, I couldn't help but notice that they were not trading cell phone numbers or email addresses. They were trading usernames for Instagram and Snapchat. If we are going to truly communicate about the future of education, our students must be a part of the conversation. And if we want them to be a part of the conversation, we need to learn, use, and model good citizenship on the social media tools they are already using.

If we fail, educators and students will always be speaking a different language. Without communication there is no leadership. Without leadership, there is no change.