A Better Way for Administrators to Say No

How do you handle unsupportive administrators? Here's one suggestion to an admin's mean rejection of Twitter usage.A reader sent me an email yesterday:

Dear Bon,
I attended a twitter session with you at CAMT. You (and everyone else) said that twitter can be used for all sorts of great educational stuff. When looking into this, I found a really cool article on how to use twitter in the classroom so I shared it with the other teachers at my school. My principal “responded to all” and let us know that we were NOT to use twitter in any way. Her email was only one line: “Teachers, Don’t even think about it!” I was floored. I don’t know what to do about this. Do you have any ideas?
Ms. Smith

I was so sad for her. I looked through the article and found lots of great resources for using twitter, as well as ideas to take the “twitter conversation” offline. Many of the ideas can be done in class with post-it notes!

My response was to offer two things…

First: Do it anyway – unplugged.

First, implement some of the ideas in your class in an unplugged way. For instance, have one of your bulletin boards be a “chirp wall.” Decorate it with birds and have your students make comments on something with <=140 characters on a post-it note.

You can use prompts like, “What are you concerned about this quarter?” or “How do you feel about the lesson we’re currently on?”

Instead of using the “what did you learn today” exit ticket, have them chirp their answer on the bulletin board.

Second: Remember this when you’re an administrator.

The problem with many administrators is they forget how it felt to be mistreated as a teacher. Clearly Ms. Smith’s principal has.

(Note: I realize not all teachers are mistreated. But I’ve heard more stories that I should about how teachers have been talked down to.)

So I suggested that she make this a professional development lesson. She could rewrite the principal’s email in a kinder, more encouraging way. She can keep it in Evernote in a professional development notebook to refer to as she moves to higher positions.

A better way to say no…

I took my own advice and rewrote her principal’s less-than-kind email. Here’s my version:

Dear faculty,
We, the administration, are in the process of investigating the many uses of Twitter for education. As a non-profit school, we have to be careful how parents, donors and the board perceives our use of social media in the classroom.
The article you sent has many great ideas. But before you launch Twitter in your classrooms, allow us to educate the stakeholders so to have the most support in this.
In the meantime, try using some of the ideas without twitter. I recommend the following ideas in the article be used with post-it notes on a bulletin board:
9. Write a story or poem.
11. Ask questions.
22. Write reviews.
25. Facilitate discussions.
29. Plan field trips.
33. Take a poll.
41. Create a progressive poem.
42. Play word games.
43. Post math puzzles.
50. Summarize.
Thanks, Ms. Smith, for your enthusiasm with technology. I look forward to keeping all of you updated on how we progress with moving toward a more technologically savvy learning space!
Ms. Principal

What do you think?

How would you respond to Ms. Smith regarding her principal’s unsupportive email?

Share in the comments and ask your PLN on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!

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