Monday, December 11, 2017

Transforming the Message

Greetings from Twitter-Land this morning. As a part of my quest to promote school music programs on social media for HCPSM, I spend time daily reading all tweets mentioning “hcpss”. There’s probably a way to set up a system to do this. I pride myself on doing it “by hand”. It doesn’t take all that long, and I learn quite a bit about what’s happening in our schools.

During the past four years or so, the message coming from Central Office and individual schools was full of educational buzz words. There were daily, if not hourly, references to World Class Education, College and Career Ready, data, rigor, grit, Gallup Strengths Finder, and testing, testing, testing. And let’s not forget Vision 2018.

Controlling the message was a hallmark of the previous administration. It was clear the school administrators felt pressure to conform when composing tweets meant to inform their school communities. Day after day the educational gobbledegook flowed from every source. I often wondered if other parents found it as mind-boggling as I did.

There has been a noticeable shift in what is being shared since the advent of Interim Superintendent Michael Martirano. This is only to be expected. His own Twitter account has focused on kindness, equity, and inclusion. He exhorts the community to be willing to do the hard work necessary to make those things happen. And, naturally, school accounts have reflected his priorities.

But a greater change has been how individual schools are reporting on daily happenings. Admin are reporting on a greater variety of things that show learning, whether academic, social-emotional, arts experiences or physical development through sports. They appear to have much more freedom to simply inform the public of what they judge to be “share-worthy” experiences.

Of course it’s all a part of a larger goal of public relations, but it looks much more like truth to me. As a teacher, I read the hcpss twitter feed with much more joy these days. As a parent, I’m being given a chance to see what is actually going on, instead of strings of eduspeak. I’m seeing a system that celebrates individual school communities, and values the ability of administrators to choose which stories to share.

Yes, there’s an overall unity in priorities. We are a school “system”, after all. But I’m feeling a loosening of the grip when it comes to how The Message is shared.

Truth in advertising: all of my observations here are made as an outside observer. No actual school system employees were consulted for the writing of this piece. So there is plenty that I do not know.

I do know that it’s a whole lot more fun to do the hcpss Twitter scan these days. Our schools are doing some pretty cool stuff. Do you follow your child’s school on Twitter? You should. These days, you might actually learn something.

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