I’ve begun to dabble some more with social media at my school. I wrote a few weeks ago about how brave I felt in starting a principal’s blog where community members could comment on my musings about school events. I’ve branched out a bit more by creating a Twitter profile for my school. I’ve even created a FaceBook page for my school but I am waiting for the system administrators to find a way to open up that forbidden site so I can post updates while at school. With the table set, I have been waiting for my digital guests to arrive. And just as I feared that my digital meal would go cold, I had two guests show up in the form of a comment on my blog and a follower on my school’s Twitter account!
I am certain that expanding my school’s digital footprint is the right thing to do. But a social media fact of life just dawned on me. I am so used to posting information in school newsletters and on our web page that I forgot the two-way, nature of social media. When I checked my first Twitter follower I automatically looked at their digital footprint – seeing who they were following and who was following them. I do this all the time with the folks who make up my personal learning network on Twitter. If some principal from the Midwest starts to follow me I check out his or her followers to see if there is anyone I would like to follow too. It just makes sense to me. But it somehow felt voyeuristic to be looking at the digital footprint of one of my school families. I really don’t “know” that principal from Illinois, but I do know that parent who lives down the road from the school. Does this make my looking at their footprint any different?
One thing I know for sure, your digital footprint says a lot about you. If you looked at my @principalwells account you would see the many professional connections I have made over time both by looking at who I follow and who follows me. These connections are important enough to me that I routinely review my followers and delete any spam followers who have found my account. I also think twice about who I follow with my professional account. What would it say if you saw that I followed Lady Gaga? (No offence to the singer, I wouldn’t want to follow her!) I realize the really cool thing about this is that my Twitter account can say two things about me or my school. First, it can announce a concert or share a photo of kids learning science and second, it can show my school’s own digital footprint. If families who follow me do as I do when following a new person on Twitter, I can subtly communicate to them about who and what my school feels is important.