Sunday, September 4, 2016

How to Gain More Social Media Followers When You Need To

I know, I know.  Anyone who has a social media presence in leadership and does it for the right reasons knows that its not about how many followers you have on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or how many “Likes” you get on Facebook.  The quote above says it perfectly.   Leading and growing is about inspiring and leading staff, students/clients and community/stakeholders.    But at times, having more followers can be more important that inspiring and leading.  The number of followers you have dictates how many you can lead and inspire.  Increasing the number of followers and/or subscribers to a social media account will actually help this cause.

In many positions, it can be difficult to inform people of a new hire’s social media presence.    That’s why it is important to follow some strategies to increase stakeholder’s awareness of a new social media opportunity that can help increase their knowledge base while also inspiring and helping others.  For example, when new personnel are hired in school districts, especially large districts, it can be difficult to make others aware of the new personnel’s social media presence.  If you follow the different strategies listed below, this will help increase awareness and help gain traction to increase followers and ultimately help tell your story:

Own and Know How to Use a Smartphone/Mobile Device - I put this first because it may be the most important aspect of increasing social media presence.  Being able to post and tweet instantly has a huge advantage over waiting to post when you get back to your office or have access to a computer.  Having AND knowing how to use a Smartphone or mobile device allows you instant access to posting and sharing information with stakeholders.  Having the ability to take pictures, tell a story and immediately upload to social media sets the stage to increasing everyone’s presence on social media.

Follow Others - Whether it is Twitter or Pinterest, it is imperative to follow others who are using social media in your business, organization and/or district.  This may require you to search a staff member’s name and type “Twitter” and/or “Pinterest” next to their name while searching, but it will give you more people to follow who already work in your organization and can help spread your message. More times than not, people you follow will follow you back.

Share ideas, tweet links/post links to articles/posts - Brad Currie, Billy Krakower and Scott Rocco said it best in their book 140 Twitter Tips for Educators, “A way to gain followers is by sharing ideas. Tweet links to articles and blog posts you find interesting, share quotes, facts, or simply a note about something awesome that just happened in your school/district.  As you consistently share relevant information and interesting ideas, more people will want to follow you” (p. 24).  A great way to do this is by using Flipboard (website or app) to create magazines of articles/posts of your favorite topics.  You can share these through your social media accounts and tag people, companies, and organizations.  I would also suggest finding hashtags and including them in your posts to allow more users to see the posts. Here is a video on how to use Flipboard:

Participate in Twitter chats - I still tell people to this day when I speak at various conferences and keynotes, the key to my growth as an educator has always been participating in chats, especially #satchat and #ohedchat.  Chats allow you to share your educational philosophies and beliefs with others while gaining large amounts of professional development in a short amount of time.  The key is not to just “lurk” in chats (watch the conversation and don’t participate), but to get involved and share resources while creating dialogue.  As the authors of 140 Twitter Tips for Educators state, “The more you participate in a Twitter discussion like #satchat, the more likely you are to gain followers, especially if your message resonates with participants” (p. 24).

Connect with Others Who Use Social Media - It really is simple math: when a person Retweets a tweet and has 1,000 followers, more people will see the tweet than when a person who has 10 followers Retweets the same tweet.  Connecting with others who actually use social media will help your social media presence.  Find the people in your organization/business who use social media and connect with them.

Tweet/Tag Local Businesses, Companies, Government - Our local businesses and government entities do a great deal for all organizations.  Use social media to keep them aware of the great things you and your staff are doing.  Find ways to thank them for all of their contributions to your cause and tag them in posts.  A simple Retweet or Like by their organization will greatly increase your presence. For example, I regularly tag @CityOfGahanna in tweets about our @LincolnFabLab or events we have going on at school.

Tweet/Post Athletic Scores and Performing Art Events - As 140 Twitter Tips for Educators explains, “Twitter has become such a prevalent part of our culture that professional and school athletic departments, teams, and athletes now keep their fans up-to-date on the latest news in 140 characters or less” (p. 45).  Use your business/organization/school district social media accounts and hashtags while posting the events.  Also tag local media outlets (radio stations, TV stations) to keep them aware of the events.  They will often Retweet or re-post to share with thousands of their followers.

Tweet/Post Great Things Happening in Your Organization - This is a no brainer.  Tell your story because you don’t want someone else doing it for you.  Let everyone know how proud you are of the great things going on.

Have Others Tag You in Tweets - Sometimes it may be awkward to ask others to “Share the Love!”, but sometimes that’s exactly what you have to do.  If people in your organization are using social media, simply ask them to include you on tweets/posts.  Please don’t be shy in this area.  If you are serious about helping others and increasing your presence to do so, then have the conversation.

Share Your Business/District/Building Account - If possible, it is important to share administrator rights to your business/school/district social media accounts.  I realize this may not be possible for everyone, but if you have ability to gain access to your business/district account as an administrator, I highly suggest you do that.  Many times I will post something I see in the classroom or in a performance on my personal account and also tag my school in the same post  Using my smartphone, I switch to my school account (in the matter of 2 clicks) and repeat the same post on the school account under my personal account.  While I don’t do this on purpose, it does increase the amount of followers on both ends.

Start a Blog - In my opinion, reflection is a key component in the growth of any professional.  Creating a blog and sharing your reflections will not only help you, but also help others.  Create blog posts and share your blog on social media (tweet, post, and pin the link to your blog).  Tag people in your organization and community.  Also tag professionals that you admire and have the same philosophy as you.  They may also share your post, thus allowing more social media users to see it.

Create Your Own Quotes - While I am not a big fan of this one, it does work.  You can use sites and apps like Canva to type in your own quote (or others) with a background image, tag others in the post, and share it on social media outlets.  Your quotes could help others think differently about a topic and reveal your insights on different areas.

Include All of Your Social Media Accounts in Your Email Signature - We all send email to large groups of stakeholders.  Why not include all of the ways that your stakeholders can connect with you in the signature of your email?  An example of mine is below:

Bobby Dodd
Gahanna Lincoln High School

Twitter: @bobby__dodd
School Twitter: @GLHSLions
RemindHQ: Text the number "81010" w/ the message "@glhsinfo" to receive text messages
Instagram: bobby__dodd


If you are not going to use social media, then you are not going to have a social media presence.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to increase your followers if you are doing it for the right reasons.  Use the strategies above to get you started.  Find a few of them and really focus on using them to help tell your story.  You may actually be surprised who is listening.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Education Design & Practice: Are you Changing Your Clubs?

As a golf fan, I can remember when the “long putters” were becoming all of the rage on the PGA and Senior Tours.  Early on, it seemed everyone was trying them out to see if they were the next great fix to their respective golf games and careers.    When you see the putters, they aren’t the prettiest looking clubs on the market.  The putters drew people’s attention because they didn’t look like the conventional golf club.  The clubs were different.  And when it comes to golf, the appearance of clubs rarely drastically change over the years.  Sounds a little like education doesn't it?

But that’s just it.  The players were not experimenting to be different or to say, “Hey, look at me!  I’m using a goofy looking 'long putter' to get attention and be different.”  They tried them to see if it improved their games and lowered their scores.  The players who became comfortable with the clubs and continued to use them did it because they started to see improvements in their putting. They eventually changed from the conventional putter to the "long putter" because they got better.

As we have started the new school year, I have been visiting classrooms and have seen many changes in design and practice.  The changes are similar to the “long putters” craze discussed above.  The educational design and practice hasn’t been done to change for the sake of change.  The changes have been for the benefit of students and the benefit of the staff.  While traditionalists in education may frown upon changes, the age we live in demands it. 

One example of change that I recently experienced was in Annie Prenoveau's (@MrsPrenoveau) class.  Annie teaches Algebra II and is an instructor in our GCS (Gahanna’s Commitment toward Success) program.  Annie’s classroom made a transformation this summer.  It went from the “traditional” classroom that we know (rows, metal chairs, metal desks) to a relaxing, comfortable learning environment for students.  Not only has this changed the way the room appears, but it has changed the way she teaches.  A collaborative environment allows teachers to become facilitators and assist with learning.  Teacher are now not the only person in the room who holds all of the information.  Collaborative spaces helps foster the distribution of information between student and teacher. 

When looking to change design and practice, it is important to focus on specific areas to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.  The areas below enable you do just that:

Do the Data: You have to know why you are changing what you do and how it looks.  If the why isn’t related to growth of students and staff, you are doing it for the wrong reasons.  There is no reason to start down the path of obtaining resources and making changes if you don’t know the why of different design and practices.  Collect your data.  Do your research.  Connect with your PLN.  

Listen to your Crew:  What are your students looking for?  What type of environment do they need to succeed? They are the people who will be impacted the most by the changes.  Focus on creating an innovative learning environment that will foster differentiation.  While many of our students appear the same, they do not learn the same.  Getting input from students will illustrate to you what type of environment you need for each class.  If you are not getting input from your students on design and practice, you are not making the greatest impact with your changes as you could be.  

Grind to Find the Resources: This is usually the biggest hurdle.  Its tough, time consuming, and the most common downfall for great ideas regarding design and practice.  It is easy for resources to become the biggest demise because it’s the easiest excuse.  We can’t let that dictate changing design and practice.  We need to utilize our connections and personal learning network to find resources.  Sometimes it really all comes down to how bad you want it and much of an impact you believe it can make with your students.

As mentioned above, Annie changed her design but didn’t let a lack of funds stand in her way.  She utilized to secure funding for her ideas.  She had many families and friends who saw her need and helped her.  There are other sites available like,,,, and RocketHub ( where you can ask for specific funds based on what you need.

That doesn’t even mention building relationships with local businesses and writing grants for specific projects.  While it may be a little bit of work, as you can see from Annie’s room, its worth it.

Remain Relevant and Alive as an Educator:   You have to be professionally relevant.  If you don't, like anything else in life, there are consequences.  Refusing to change or even consider changing design and/or practice can be percieved as if you don’t consider being relevant as a priority.  Students see right through that.  That is why the best teachers personalize their learning, learn from others, and find ways to make changes in design and practice based on student need.

While the “long putter” in golf has taken some heat lately in golf and lead to rule changes, players will continue to try to find ways to get better.  Educators and leaders need to have the same mentality.  We need to continue to test the waters in design and practice.  Creating collaborative environments and using teaching methods that promote collaboration will help our students for life after school.  As educators, the specific areas mentioned above are in our hands.  It’s on us to provide opportunities to change.  If not, our students lose out.  Changing clubs and trying out different clubs doesn’t always work out in the end.  But not even giving a change in design and practice a chance could leave you wondering what could have been.  Don’t be like the guys who didn’t even try the “long putter” because how it looked.  Be the person who at least gave it a try to see if it would make them better.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

4 Essentials to Improving Your Educational Programs and Classes This Summer

Starbucks.  Southwest Airlines.  Facebook.  Kahn Academy.  All successful brands and companies that produce quality service, products and programs.  We assume these companies are good because of their names and what they have done.   More times than not, we go to get our coffee at Starbucks or reserve our flights with Southwest simply because we know what we are going to get.  We don’t question the how and why we get what we need with great businesses and programs; we just expect to get what we want and need.  The expectations that they have molded in each of us are built on the foundation and culture within their organizations.

 The same goes for successful educational programs.  Many times we take them for granted because each year we know what we are going to get.  From the inside of the building or classroom, sometimes our staff and students almost make it look too easy.  They make pride, tradition and success look routine.  In reality, all of those things are anything but easy to duplicate. 

Great educational programs are lot like the successful brands above.  They are built on basic principles that stand the test of time.  When I think of success, I think of the performing arts at Gahanna Lincoln High School.   While all of the programs (theatre, band, choir, orchestra) are successful in their own rights, they all have foundation built on the same principles:

Relationships Are Vital
Everyone in the department and program needs to work together, even if they have different individual styles and personalities.  To have a successful program at any level, you need to have a foundation built on relationships.  Your department needs to have the same goal in mind: all students, our students.  Don’t focus on grade levels, focus on students.  Relationships stand the test of time when everyone has the same overall goal to achieve.

Communication Must Include Everyone
To have successful programs you need efficient and effective communication techniques.  Everyone within the department needs to know what the rest of the staff is doing.  For effective communication you need strong relationships.  When you are thinking about your own program, remember to make building strong relationships a priority in order to help the flow of communication.  When you care about others in your program, you will communicate better because you want to make sure everyone is informed.  You won’t do it because you feel you have to communicate to everyone.  You will communicate to make sure the relationships inside your department and program remain strong so everyone can achieve the ultimate goal of helping others.

Structure Can't Take Days Off
Create a structure for the entire program for everyone to follow.  Surprisingly, more structure allows for others to be more creative and flexible in their instruction.  You would think it would be the opposite, but it isn’t.  The formulated structure of a program allows for staff to step outside of the normal routine and try different methods.  If they work, the rest of the staff in the program can also use the methods and make improvements on their end.  If it doesn’t work, other members of the program can add input and everyone knows the new attempt wasn’t successful and can help make improvements to either use it or not use it.  That is only possible when a solid structure exists and all members have a part in creating the structure.

Success Breeds Success
Successful programs have a healthy culture.  Many times, a healthy culture has the foundation of a solid structure.   Besides culture and structure, successful programs also have talent.  But talent alone doesn’t create success.  A mixture of culture, talent and structure creates success.  Winners win!  We know that’s the case.  But there is always a foundation to a winner’s success story and it focuses around culture.

When you are thinking about your classroom, your building, your district, or even your business, remember what great organizations or programs represent.  Visualize how you can make improvements in your organization or program by focusing on the characteristics discussed above.  Use the next couple of months to figure out how you and your team will help transform your programs or classroom to be the best it can be.   Build a culture to make success the norm and not the exception. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

5 Foolproof Professional Development Tips for the Educational Offseason

You hear the quote all the time from athletes around the world, “Champions are made in the offseason.”  For athletes, the offseason (or preseason) is when they get stronger, smarter, and better.  During the season itself, there usually isn’t enough time to put the required amount of work into the areas mentioned above.  They are simply too busy competing in games and matches.  While athletes practice and compete during their respective seasons, the offseason has always been known as the time where the expectations are to work and learn to prepare for the upcoming season.

If you think about it, the offseason for educators is the same as athletes.  While we may call it summer break and use a portion of the summer to relax and recharge, we also have an obligation to use it as a time to get stronger, smarter and better in our field.  With the help of social media, connected educators continue to grow during the school year.  But the summer is definitely a time when we don’t have so many things going on and can really focus on growing and getting better.

Follow the five tips below to have a strong offseason and help you improve as an educator:

 1. Create a Plan for What You Want to Accomplish this Offseason

We are all well aware of the research that states you have a better chance of accomplishing a goal when it is written down.  Be creative and plan a method of attack for your offseason.  Write it down.  What do you want to accomplish?  What do you want to learn more about?  Where do you want to get better?  Create a plan based on goals and efficiency.  Figure out what you need to do to get better and expand your learning.  If you want to read a certain number of books, then write it down which books you want to read and read them.  If you want to attend certain conferences, then plan for it. 

2. Focus on the “3 R’s”
These aren’t your traditional 3 R’s.  I’m talking about read, read and read.  Plan to read as many books as you want.  Learn how to use Flipboard and create magazines you can read each day to learn more about your passion.  Share what you are reading with others.  Use social media to share your thoughts about your readings.  Or share posts and articles you read via email with your colleagues.  When you read, visualize how you can use what you are reading to help your classroom and/or building.  Dedicate a portion of each day during your offseason to reading.  Last year I read The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity by Kory Kogon to help improve my productivity during each day.  This summer I have already read The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable by Seth Godin, and Leadership and the Art of Struggle by Steven Snyder. 

3. Go to Conferences and EdCamps
Try to go to every conference and edcamp that you can.  The professional networking and opportunities to get better are limitless.  Whether the conferences are national or local, it doesn’t make a difference. They are opportunities to grow. 

My favorite form of professional development is participating in a couple of edcamps during the summer.  For example, this year I plan on participating in the international #EdCampLdr day on June 30th where there will be edcamps around the world focusing on leadership (Ohio’s#EdCampLdrOH will be at Clark Hall in Gahanna, OH once again!).  Take advantage of the opportunity to attend edcamps to learn from others in a nontraditional academic setting that will enable you to personalize your own professional learning.

4. Try Something New
At times, during the school year, we tend to backoff from trying new things because there is always a learning curve that takes time.  Find a new site to explore.  Work with some different apps to see if they can help you grow.  Look into different social media accounts to see if they can help your professionally (Hint: Facebook isn’t what it used to be.  Many people are now using it to grow professionally).  Try using Voxer to connect with others around the world to see what they are doing to grow this offseason.

5. Make Goals for the Upcoming School Year
Use the offseason to create goals for your classroom and/or building.  If you already have goals for next year, figure out an action plan for how you will accomplish your goals.  Think of the different evidence you will collect to accomplish your goals.  The offseason is the time to pinpoint which data you will collect during the year and how you will use it.  Don’t forget to focus on what you want to improve for the upcoming school year and research what you can use to make that happen. 

While I am definitely a beach guy and love to hit the sand and surf during the summer, I also know my offseason is here.  Its time to get better at what I do.  Learn more, grow more, and help my school and district get better.  Professional growth is always available.  As educators, we have to want to get better.  We have to want to be the best we can be for our students.  What better time to do that than the offseason.  Remember, all men are created equal, some just work harder in the preseason.