Sunday, March 20, 2016

Schools Face A Perception Problem

When you read about education in the news, it is usually about something negative.  It's unfortunate, but it's not just education.  Watch the evening news and it is predominantly negative information.  Here's the thing.  I often hear that society loves to hear about negativity, but I don't completely buy that.  People LOVE a great story.  We just have to tell it.

Part of the reason schools have a perception problem has nothing to do with the bad things that are happening there.  They just get lumped in with the few newsworthy schools that do have bad things happening.  But we can change that.  More importantly, YOU can change that.

Do your families and community know about the great things happening in your schools?  Are you using story telling tools that engage them?

Just this past weekend, students in our school district competed in the Central Ohio District Science Fair.  I was there and when I noticed two of the first three "sponsored" awards went to students from our school district, I shared that information on our school's Facebook account.  No photo, no video, just these simple statements:

  • "The Big Walnut kids are cleaning house in the awards at the Central OH District Science Fair."
    • 51 "likes" and reached 336 people in 24 hours.
  • "BWI qualifies 12 to the state science fair."
    • 57 "likes" and reached 730 people in under 24 hours
Did 336 people and 730 people actually see these two "stories?" Potentially, but probably not.  However, I can assure you more that 51 and 57 people saw each of these two posts.  In those two posts, 51 and 57 people respectively enjoyed that "story" so much that they took action.  They hit the "like" button, essentially sharing the good news with their friends.  This is the positive power in social media.  It wasn't just parents who saw these stories.  Aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas saw it as well.

If your schools are currently using social media to engage your community, share the great things happening in your schools, not just information or the next upcoming meeting.  Share the stories.  If your school is not currently using social media, talk with your decision makers before you start.  You can change the perception.

Ryan McLane is the principal of Big Walnut Intermediate School in Sunbury, Ohio and the co-author of Your School Rock...So Tell People.  You can order it on or

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