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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Every Principal Needs A Blog!

My only experience with ice fishing is the movie Grumpy Old Men. That brief glimpse was not enough to make me want to try it. However, the fact that ice fishing gave me the opportunity to guest post on this award-winning blog means that it can't be all bad.

Thanks Richard! Hope you caught a few!

By Patrick Larkin - Principal Burlington High School (MA)

I'll start with four questions for my fellow administrators:

  1. Are you proud of your school?
  2. Do you have students who are doing newsworthy things in class and in co-curricular activities?
  3. Do you have some great teachers who engage students in ways you never thought of?
  4. Would you like to improve communication with parents and the community?

Let's hope and assume that you went 4-for-4 in the affirmative. If not...well, I'll save that for another post.

Getting Started

Back to the topic at hand, blogging for administrators. One of things that most amuses me is the accolades I get for having a blog. My fellow bloggers can attest to how easy it is to blog. If you can type a word document then you can blog. The only extra step involved is hitting the "publish post" button. Blogging should not even be a question anymore, it really is a no-brainer.

Forget about press releases. Instead, write a blog post and send the link to the news desk at your local newspaper. Blogging allows you to brag daily about all of the great things happening in your school. You can brag about your students, brag about your teachers, and even brag about yourself. You should be the number-one source of news about things happening in your school.

From experience, I can tell you that your parents, your students, and the community will love you for it. When the students see me around taking pictures of things that they are doing in class and in co-curricular activities, I often hear them say to one another, "He's blogging you." I also enjoy getting e-mails from staff and parents asking me to post something on my blog about something happening with a student or a group of students.

Creating An Audience

I made a conscious decision to post a lot about athletics on my blog during year one. My goal was to get people going to the blog on a routine basis. I also cut out all newsletters and put all items on the blog instead, following up on major news and events with a connect-ed phone message to all parents with information and reminder to check out the blog for more details. Each day I would post at least two items so that there would be new information routinely and through all of this I have monitored my blog hits with statcounter.

As you can see the traffic has been pretty consistent with a record of over 10,000 unique visitors last March. Our boys hockey team made a tremendous playoff run (all the way to Boston Garden and I live blogged during the games with updates, causing my traffic to go through the roof.

With these regular visitors to my blog, I was able to move the agenda and start talking about topics related to teaching and learning at our school (i.e. cellphone policy , progress reports). The blog gave me a place for parents to go and get updates and ask questions about emergencies (i.e.threats against the school).

Promote Your Vision

This year we have transitioned away from sports and started a separate BHS Athletics Blog for most of our sporting news. In addition, I have started to post more routinely about my thoughts on changes needed in education both at BHS and beyond (i.e. My Sixth Grader Made High Honors Again). This has allowed me to get into deeper discussions about changes we need to make at our school and it gives staff and parents a better idea of my vision for BHS.

There is no downside to blogging for administrators. So I will leave you with one last question...

What are you waiting for!?

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