My Social Media Mistake

Gosh darn it. Have you ever done something that afterwards you thought, “I’m an idiot”? I made a mistake last week that I can’t erase, I know better, it reflected poorly on me and I’m so sorry.

Social media. Ugh. I’ve tried to use Twitter and Facebook to communicate with our school community–primarily about all of the positive things happening here–and last week I totally blew it.

Calling snow days, cold weather days, making good decisions for the students–all of it results in emotional responses from parents, faculty and staff who weigh in on both sides of the issue. I can’t reiterate enough how many conversations with staff here, the highway superintendent and my colleagues in other districts  go into our decision. I always prefer to have our students here in school, that’s why we exist! I do think about the finances too–how much our payroll is for 186 days and that every time we cancel, we lose that day of productivity.

But that’s not the point of this post.

Last week I received a “tweet” from our students regarding the cold weather call we made to pick up our students door to door and to be in session on Friday. It was a short video that showed our students at play practice responding to my all-call that we would have school the next day. It was awesome and I loved it.

Then I tweeted–which goes to 800+ followers and then links to Facebook–a tweet that I meant primarily for those same students but of course went to everyone. I forgot about audience and perception and my professional role that is required as superintendent that is beyond being “tongue in cheek” with our students. It was a mistake. I’m not explaining it away–I was wrong.

For everyone who read my tweet that included an emoticon that showed me blowing a kiss–believe it or not, I meant that to say to our students, “love you!” but I can see that it didn’t come across that way. I also said, “giving you your money’s worth”–which led readers to interpret that money was more important to me than student safety.

How stupid I was! I cannot expect people who don’t even know me to “get” my message, delivered in 140 characters. The tweet was unprofessional and I should know better. I will not make the mistake again, we’re better than that–high expectations for everyone in our district starts with having high expectations for myself first.

  1. Perhaps it’s because I know you, but when I saw you blow that little cyber kiss, I smiled. Anyone who knows you and sees how you engage with your students would understand your intentions. And anyone who has made a similar social media mistake will appreciate this post as well. Something I’ve always appreciated about you: as a Super, it seems that you rarely separate yourself from your community. You *are* very human,and you establish close relationships with those you serve. You’re close enough to rib them online, and you’re also self-aware enough to apologize when you realize that those who don’t know this about you might interpret it incorrectly. This is one of the best posts you’ve ever written. I hope it inspires others….

  2. Hi Kimberly, What a wonderfully honest, human post. This post shows the great power of social media in humanzing all of us. Sometimes those of us in district roles can oftern be just the “people at the Board Office” but we are also learners ourselves. Thanks for your willingness to share your reflections. You have a new fan from the other side of the continent.

    Chris Kennedy, Superintendent of Schools, West Vancouver, BC, Canada

  3. I applaud you for not only using social media with your community, but also for reflecting on what we would consider a “teachable moment” as well!

    As a classroom teacher at Amherst Middle and adjunct professor at Canisius who values technology tools, I must say I have learned a lot from your posts, please do keep it going!

    I often direct my students and colleagues to your blog for insight as to how our Superintendents can be using social media to stay connected to community members.

    Keep up the great work!
    Rob Zdrojewski

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