Social networking has become a quick and efficient way for K12 administrators to gain professional development.
Lyn Hilt, principal of Brecknock Elementary School in the Eastern Lancaster County (Pa.) School District recently had to create a new acceptable use policy for elementary student computer use. She posted on Twitter that she was looking for ideas, and within minutes she had dozens of examples from other districts' administrators, including a video that had interviews with students and an administrator discussing the rights and responsibilities of students.
"In an hour, I was done," she says. Principal Eric Sheninger of New Milford (N.J.) High School says that his blog, "A Principal's Reflections," gives his stakeholders "a glimpse into what I do as an administrator and the achievements of my students and staff. As a leader, it gives me a platform to reflect on my successes, and it allows me to critically analyze how I do things as a principal."
The annual Edublog Awards, a community- based program in its seventh year, solicits nominations from followers of the blogs and rates the best social media sites worldwide. "A Principal's Reflections" won first runner-up as best school administrator blog in 2010.
Last year Sheninger blogged about how a class in his high school was learning about the Holocaust by communicating with a guide in Nahariya, Israel, using Skype. The UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey learned about this program through the blog and is now partnering with the school so that students and administrators from New Milford and Nahariya can travel to and visit with each another. "My hope is that we can learn successful [leadership] strategies" from each other, Technology he says. "They have very large class sizes. How do they manage that?" Although social media networking is quick and valuable, it won't replace face-to-face workshops, says George Couros, an Alberta, Canada principal and creator of "The Principal of Change," which won second runner-up for best school administrator blog in 2010.