Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Tools and Strategies Help Prevent School Bullying and Violence

"Is it possible to identify and address bullying and other negative behavior at schools before it erupts into violence?

School bullying is now at crisis levels in the U.S., and it’s one of the primary challenges that school leaders face in managing the learning environment and ensuring that students feel safe and ready to learn. As school leaders look for ways to deal with this problem, some are turning to a promising new technology platform for help.

Before high-quality curriculum or pedagogy can foster student achievement, schools must establish a positive climate where staff, students, and parents all feel accepted and respected and where learning—not safety—is the main focus, experts say. Feeling safe and respected can be critical to students’ motivation to learn. It’s not hard to imagine how a student’s academic goals would come second to making it through the day without being bullied." 

The quote above is from an outstanding report that promises to help principals, school staff and communties not only prevent bullying and other forms of cyber-violence in their schools, but actually use the technology as an intevention in the prevention and mitigation of cyber-bullying and related forms of intimidation. The secret is to maintain a comprehensive school climate that promotes safety and learning rather than power and intimidation.

A new platform from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt helps track important information about school climate and the ways it either promotes or mediates violence.  The report not only describes this new tool and how to use it, but also provides solid resources on bullying and other forms of school violence that can be managed effectively with digital tools. 

You can see the entire report on the eSchoolNews website:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Social Media for School Communication

It’s easy to dismiss social media as a fascination of young people but to do so minimizes one of the fastest growing trends in technology. The Pew Internet and American Life Project recently found that over 71% of teens have a Facebook profile and 75% of adults have one too. Social media tools have become the way for a school or business to quickly and efficiently disseminate information. Because of the almost universal access to social media across all demographic groups it often reaches people that traditional forms of communication miss.

The online presence for many schools has moved beyond the school website. It now includes a Facebook page (, a Twitter account (, blogs by teachers, principals or the superintendent, and YouTube ( and Flickr ( for sharing videos and photos about school events.

Seven Reasons to Pay Attention to Social Media

  1. It Builds Relationships – Creating relationships is important for leaders and social media is a new, and very effective, way to build support among your stakeholders.
  2. It’s About Customers – Parents and employees often come from a different generation, one that wants to work differently and to be involved in the educational process. Social media is a way to engage them in the life of your school.
  3. They’re Already Talking – Check out the Internet and other online sites. People are already commenting about your school and about your leadership.
  4. Listen as Well as Share – The principal is responsible for maintaining the school’s image. Use social media to interact with parents and community. Use it to both hear from them and to share information. It can provide a way to detect rumors and allow you to respond quickly.
  5. You’ll Be Well Received – Almost everyone we’ve talked with reports the positive reception they get from having a blog, a Twitter feed or a school Facebook page.
  6. It Builds Community – People commit to things they care about. As we described earlier, the public is less trustful of schools. Social media promotes community by inviting people to be part of the conversation.
  7. It’s Here to Stay – While the forms of social media continue to change the evidence is that our use of the tools will only accelerate. Increasingly the expectation is that schools stay connected to their families and their community. Social media is the tool. (Adapted from: Porterfield & Carnes (2010), AASA Online)