At the middle and elementary school levels, Facebook seems even more difficult to use considering users must be 13-years-old or older to legally have an account. The way I envisioned using Facebook was not necessarily to communicate with parents or students outside of class, but as a means sending out important notifications on a platform in which most people are activity participating.
I created a Facebook Page to keep parents informed about upcoming events such as projects, tests and quizzes. I also use it to share pictures of activities we have done in class or to share the "Word of the Day."
What is Facebook Pages?
"Pages are for businesses, organizations and brands to share their stories and connect with people. Like Timelines, you can customize Pages by adding apps, posting stories, hosting events and more. Engage and grow your audience by posting regularly. People who like your Page and their friends can get updates in News Feed." - Facebook.com
Getting Started (Overview):
1. Create a Classroom Page
This is different from creating a Facebook account and friending parents or students (although I do recommend creating the Page from a separate account just to be safe). The Page is used the same way businesses use Facebook Pages. Parents or students automatically receive your updates and statuses to their News Feed after they "Like" your Page.
2. Get Parents to "Like" Your Page
When parents like your Page, they can see your updates and thankfully, you can't see theirs. Be sure you remind parents of this. I send out a mass email and also pass out informational slips during parent-teacher conferences.
3. Post Updates, Pictures, Articles and Resources
Although this information is always available on my teacher website, many parents and students have issues finding these resources or simply forget it was available. Sending the information directly to the parents has proved to be a successful way of keeping parents informed about the happenings in my classroom. I post links that take students and parents directly to the resource page on my website which is easier than navigating through the website itself.
JUST REMEMBER THAT THE FACEBOOK PAGE IS PUBLIC!!!!! Avoid using student names or posting pictures of students to the public Facebook Page.
After You Receive 30 Likes On Your Page, You Will Have Access Insights (Data):
1. Give parents an alternative way to receive updates if they don't have Facebook
I embedded a Facebook Like Box (uncheck "Show Friends' Face"; Check "Show Posts") on the homepage of my school website. This way, parents or students can just go to my website to see any updates that have been posted to the Facebook Page. I also send parents the direct link to the public Page just in case they wanted to bookmark it on their browser.
2. Do not use your personal Facebook account to create your Facebook Page
Although it is perfectly safe to do so, I do not recommend it. You are less likely to accidentally post something to the wrong page if you keep it separate.
3. Use the Facebook Pages Manager App for Android or Apple if you plan on posting from your Mobile device.
If you do not use this app, you will need to sign out of your personal Facebook account any time you want to make a post from your mobile device. You can be logged into both accounts by using this app.
4. Team up with a Co-Worker
My co-worker and I both teach 7th and 8th grade Spanish. We both decided to try out the Facebook Page with our classes. Although it has been a success, next year one of us will manage a 7th Grade Page while the other manages an 8th grade Page. It seems silly now that we manage our own considering we end up posting very similar updates.