Classroom Facebook Page- My Reasoning
This week I went “live” with my Kindergarten classroom Facebook page. I have been toying with the idea of the page for several months. The main reason is Facebook has 500 million+ users. This is a tool that most parents know how to use and use on a consistent basis. Why struggle to make parents visit your website or blog when you can meet them in a place they already visit online? Currently my district has a parent portal that allows them access to our class page. It is only available to parents in the district and they must register and be approved before being allowed access.
The first step in my process was to send home a survey. From this survey I found that …
– 18 of 19 had a Facebook page
– 12 of 19 thought our current parent portal was difficult to use
– 4 of 19 visit the portal weekly
– 12 of 19 visit the portal rarely
– 19 of 19 would be interested in being more engaged in their child’s class
From this survey I decided I needed to be open to trying something new to reach my professional goal for the year – “better engage parents in their child’s class and learning”
So, my adventure into Facebook began. I decided early on I wanted to start a Group instead of creating a fake profile for my class. Mainly because a fake profile is against Facebook rules and I wanted to stay within those rules. I created the group and named it my class room number to avoid calling attention that it was a class or school page. Then I spent two months trying out certain things with the page to see what issues might be obvious. With the help of a few friends I gathered feedback and thoughts on how to best use the tool and keep everything secure. Here are a few things I have learned…
* There are 3 levels of security you can have “open, closed, secure” My first thought was secure because it is not searchable that way but I found that with this option only your friends can join the group. So my group is “closed” This means people must request to join the group and the content is hidden from non members
* Tagging pictures was a concern – so I asked the parents not to tag anything in our group and mentioned that any tags would be removed
*Group Members can invite their friends to join. So once a parent is part of the group they can invite their friends to join. I let the parents know they can invite 2 other people to join the group but they must let me know before asking them so I can expect to see the new member. Keeping track of this is simple. The main page tells you how many members you have.
* I set up the group to alert me if anyone makes a post or comment so I can monitor things
After one week I have 9 parents as friends from 8 different families. Several have requested grandparents/spouse be added so that will happen next week. I set a goal to update the page twice a day with content, pictures or video. I made a total of 15 posts this week and had a total of 15 comments and five likes on those posts. That is more engagement than I have had the entire year on the parent portal. I also had three parents thank me in person this week for starting the page and how much they are enjoying it. I am excited by the great start and know the possibilities are endless. This week I only had one child provide content for the page…she wrote a journal about a science experiment I shared. It is important to note that my goal is not to teach the kids Facebook or have them use it in any way. They will provide content often from their journal or verbally but I will always type that on the post.
Facebook and the iPhone allowed to me updated the page as things happened in the class easily and efficiently instead of posting the weekly report on Friday. Based on the comments I know the posts facilitated discussion at home and hopefully created a classroom/home connection. I believe this tool has a place in the classroom because of the social aspect it brings. I can picture a school with every teacher having an ipod touch to update their group page. Lastly, I still feel there is a place for a classroom blog and Facebook is a great way to promote visiting that blog as needed. I will post more as I investigate the new tool.