School social media rocks bedtime reading

Classroom management apps like SeeSaw and Class Dojo are commonplace in our classrooms. The apps are mainstream, supercharging their use are enthusiastic teachers seeking to innovate, claw back time and establish a more meaningful connection between education’s ‘holy trinity’ of a student, teacher and parent.

Social media benefits bedtime reading and storytelling.

You might think that social media and bedtime reading are incompatible. This is not true at a public school in the drought-stricken town of Warialda in far north-western New South Wales. 

Principal, Dan Van Velteheizen brought social media and bedtime reading together. Videoing himself in pyjamas reading a bedtime story and posting it on the school’s official Facebook page has done wonders for his school and the struggling community. His goal was to put bedtime reading front and centre with mothers, fathers and their children at bedtime. It’s gone viral!

Reading and storytelling will always be an opportunity for connection, positivity and enthusiasm between adults and children. They are essential to who and what we are. The act of reading is a gift to our childhood, and we return that gift as an adult to our own.  It builds bridges and heartfelt connections. As an adult, it taps the history of our childhood exciting us, generating positivity and enthusiasm that washes over our children. It creates a loving bond between adult and child.

So why has the Warialda Public School #readingchallenge with #principalsinpjs gone viral?

In our modern world, schools are an essential part of giving the gift of reading and storytelling to our children. We could argue that reading aloud competes with social media and screen time, but when we repurpose how we use them, magic happens. The simple gift of reading a book aloud, turbocharging it with social media amplifies our humanistic qualities to bring joy to students and the community. This joy creates the ripple for social media to power it beyond the Warialda township of 1300 people. Geographical location is no barrier. Neither is age, background or workplace. Good things travel online in a big way when there is meaning and connection!

Everyone is giving it a crack. Warialda Public School teachers, parents and students are dropping their thumb drives into the office in the hope of getting a start. Dads on tractors, businesswomen in the chemist, the local police, members of parliament, the education minister and even a celebrity chef have all got a start on the Warialda Public School Facebook page. 

Video, audio and subtitles provide for greater accessibility, Warialda Public School even had a storyteller sign what she was reading.

The page views are now in the 100K+ with ‘tastemakers’ such as The Melbourne Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and the New South Wales Department of Education harnessing their online audiences to spread the word.

The way schools use social media needs to undergo a subtle yet significant change. Too many schools continue to use social media as a medium to push administrative and marketing messages. It’s mind-numbing for an audience. The focus of any school social media presence should be on the heroes of the school – students, staff and parents. The act of reading a story online is a perfect example and brings all three into focus. 

This is what great schools do with social media that good schools don’t – tell everyday stories of everyday heroes in their community. 

Kick off the #readingchallenge in your school today for more #schoolheroes!

You can view more at the Sydney Morning Herald – and Facebook @WarialdaPublicSchool.