Sunday, March 18, 2012

Setting Sail in the Sea of Social Media

Today is the day I take yet another risk by getting out of my “technology comfort zone.” This will be my first entry and effort in writing a blog post. I have to thank my 15-year old daughter, Annie, who now teases me relentlessly about my addiction to technology. It’s her fault, however, that I’m now swimming with my head above water (barely) in the sea of social media. She forced me to jump in the water when she begged to open a FaceBook account first. And, then Twitter. As a high school principal, I was overly aware of the dangers of social media and teens. So, I got in on the action first by monitoring her activity online.

At first, I followed a few professional-related organizations on FaceBook, but mostly used it to connect and reconnect with old friends, classmates, and far-away family. I bored quickly by the various rants and random posts of my “friend” base. Although I keep a presence on Facebook now, it remains more of a personal than professional platform.

On October 22, 2011, I posted my first tweet. This was shortly after I acquired the iPad2 and downloaded the FlipBoard app. FlipBoard was my first breakthrough. As a periodic reader of People magazine, this app made Twitter and Facebook more flashy and inviting to read. I started following more and more people and eventually began “retweeting” the wings off the Twitter bird! Since I had less than 25 followers at the time, I started emailing links teachers in our school and administrator colleagues. I told everyone I knew about Twitter and FlipBoard and started asking others to follow me.

In February of 2012, I begged our district administration to open access to social media for teachers. (Students will be next) I’ve seen it said many times already, but Twitter really is my new “go to” form of professional development and collaboration with not only colleagues in my own district, but around the world.

After watching a video tutorial by Josh Stumpenhorst (@stumpteacher), I concluded that I am comfortable with the consuming (reading) and sharing (retweeting) aspects of Twitter. Now it’s time to see if I’ve got what it takes to begin creating my own content for sharing. Admittedly, I’m a little nervous about how this is going to play out. I’m not sure of a lot of things, but if nothing else, I think the power of reflection through writing makes this worth the effort.

For the five years I have been a high school principal, I write a weekly newsletter for our staff called “The Mulvey Minute.” Originally inspired by Todd Whitaker (@ToddWhitaker), it is a short document highlighting things going on with our staff in the school. I keep it to one page and feature teachers and staff members who go the extra mile or try new strategies, celebrations, and important upcoming events and dates. I conclude each edition with an inspirational quote of the week. If I’m late sending it out, I usually get at least a couple of reminders from various staff members, so I know there are at least a few devoted readers.

And, so I begin. “The Mulvey Principle” will be an online variation of the “The Mulvey Minute.” My goals will be to highlight great things teachers are doing for students, share our school’s goals with obstacles and victories in achieving them, to promote professional development, and finally as a personal and professional reflection tool. I look forward to sailing the seas of social media on a bigger (blogger) ship!

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