22 Jul Getting your GB heard: encourage governors to get involved in social media
Further to our recent post on Five ways to make your governing board’s voice more widely heard, here’s some more detail on point 4:
4. Where they feel confident to, encourage governors to get involved in social networks themselves
Here are some of the practical ways of doing that. Don’t forget, you or fellow governors can join a group, have a listen for a while to take its temperature and tone, and then see if you want to start contributing – there’s no pressure. If you are a subscriber to Modern Governor then we’d strongly recommend you encourage your colleagues to complete the new School Governors and Social Media module before they dive right in, particularly if they’ve not been active in any social media before. All of these approaches have the opportunity to make your fellow governors and governing board’s voice heard widely – for good or for ill – so it’s important to have agreed rules of engagement and an understanding of what’s involved.
Facebook is likely to be the first stop for most governors in terms of social networks, and the School Governors UK group is a peer-to-peer support group open to anyone, although new members need to be approved by one of the group’s admins. Participants are requested not to divulge which institution(s) they are a governor at, which works well in the current climate and suits the nature of the discussion, which is often around finding resources and occasionally requests for help and support, which often arrives quickly and thoughtfully.
It remains to be seen what the requirement for every school to publish a list of governors on their website (PDF link) might do to this partially anonymised system – in future anyone sharing and asking for advice or support on even a remotely tricky situation in their school environment will be able to (in theory) be associated with a specific school with some simple Googling.
Governors with a LinkedIn account can join one or both of the School Governors or School Governors in the UK groups. In contrast to current policy within the Facebook group mentioned previously, the second LinkedIn group states “Your governorship MUST show on your summary profile” – which will match with the future direction of publishing lists of governors, but could obviously impact the nature of the interactions, which slightly more business-like (as you’d expect of a business-focused social network such as LinkedIn). You’ll find that many governors are members of both these and the Facebook group mentioned previously and if you are searching for a broader community of governors to engage with then it might be a good idea to try both and see which is of most use.
@JaPenn56 I'm all for it. Why don't you get the ball rolling?
— Naureen (@5N_Afzal) March 3, 2013
It’s not necessary to have an account on Twitter to view the Sunday evening discussions around the #ukgovchat hashtag, but to contribute to them a governor or school leader will need to have a Twitter account. A ‘hashtag’ makes it possible to follow a discussion by searching for posts ‘tagged’ with that phrase from any Twitter users. For more detail, read the guest post we’ll publish tomorrow by Jo Penn and Naureen Khalid, the founders of #ukgovchat, explaining how it works and how you can get involved.
Whatever your online tool of choice to interact with your other governors, as mentioned before, you don’t have to dive straight in. If you already use these networks to broaden the range of influences on your knowledge and experience of governance, you could support and mentor other governors on your governing board who might be keen but nervous – it’s a great way to strengthen professional relationships within a board and learn from one another.
Questions for your governing board
- You may already use an online tool to share information with the school community and beyond, or you may not. Whatever your position, has it been thought through and agreed on, so that any governor can articulate the reasons behind it if asked?
- What are the needs of your school’s community? Do you need to inform them, listen to them, solicit responses to your strategic agenda? How could social media support and enhance this process?
- If you use any tool (a blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to share information, do you have an agreement on issues such as who will publish the posts, what content they will and will not cover and how we will respond to any comments or responses?
- If you are considering the use of social media, are all governors fully aware of the opportunities and potential challenges this offers? If your governing board subscribes to Modern Governor, have you tabled a discussion around this at your next full governing board meeting, asking governors in advance to work through the School Governors and Social Media module so that your discussion can be more focused, leading to an informed decision about how you choose to proceed?
Added footnote: get involved with the Education Committee as a governor
In an almost throwaway comment during the Commons Education Committee’s first session of the year on September 9th, Neil Carmichael said that some of the questions the committee would be addressing would come from social media – so if you want to get involved as a governor, then follow the Education Committee on Twitter.