Judging from the reaction (or lack thereof) to my suggestion that you surprise your students by assuming the persona of FACS founder, Ellen Swallow Richards for Halloween, I’ve failed to convince many of you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. I’m really disappointed that more of you didn’t at least download the FREE classroom materials I developed for you to use for the activity, but that’s the way it goes.
Just let me say that I think that keeping an open mind and being willing to take risk are essential keys to saving FACS. As long as we keep doing what we always have done and maintaining a low profile, it’s very unlikely that we will be able to change the public perception of our profession. Anyway. . . .
Today’s suggestion involves the utilization of social media to garner personal and public support for FACS. A few years ago it was very common for FACS programs to form what were called advisory boards within their communities. The purpose of these groups was to serve as a liaison between the teacher and the community. The sharing of information ensured that the community was aware of classroom activities and could offer support for both students and teacher. Through personal interaction with community leaders, the teacher was also able to assess the communities reaction to projects she might be planning for her students. If the FACS teacher was wise in the selection of the members of the advisory board, the group played a very valuable role in planning and instruction.
Very few FACS programs are supported by advisory boards today, unfortunately. However, the need to dialogue and raise awareness of just how broad the FACS curriculum has become has never been greater. We’re back to the concept of networking and marketing again. (FYI–We will revisit these two topics many times during this series.) You must be PROACTIVE in getting the word out to your school, your administration, and your community that FACS is valuable, relevant and essential. Trust me—the world is not going to come knocking on your classroom door to tell you what a wonderful job you are doing! You have to sell yourself and your program and social media can be one of the most effective tools for getting your message out.
So where do you start? You start with the people who are already convinced of the value of FACS. I used the image of circling the wagons in the title of this post to refer to two very powerful social media tools: Google+ Circles and Facebook groups. I’m not going to waste space telling you how to use these tools because there is an abundance of information about their use available on line. I’ll provide a couple of informational links at the end of this post. The most important thing I want to communicate to you about these circles is that who you select to be a part of your FACS-friendly circle is critical. If I were forming such a group, here are the people I would invite:
Parents of students who actively support your program. The parents of FCCLA officers would be a good example.
Former students who were successful in your classes, particularly those who went on to pursue a FACS-related career.
Fellow staff and faculty members who are friends of your program. One of the custodians on the staff where I taught was an avid baker. You can bet Joe would have been invited to join my circle!
Local entrepreneurs whose businesses are FACS-related. Ex. Owners of restaurants, day care centers, retail clothing stores, furniture stores and interior design firms, etc.
Community leaders who are active in youth programs.
School administrators and school board members.
I’m sure you can think of others who should be added to the list of potential circle members. Make a list and start checking to see which social media format will provide you with access to the most diverse and influential group of supporters then send out those friend requests. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Go for it!
Once you have your circle established then the really important work begins. You have to SHARE all the wonderful things that you and your students are doing every single day! You have an audience! Use it! Send out photos of you and your students at work in the classroom! Share important points from your lesson and a summary about a guest speaker or field trip. One caveat is that you will want to run this plan by your administration so that they know what you’re doing and why.
This new circle of supporters that you create can be a very powerful tool in establishing the value of your FACS program. A strong online presence is a must for credibility in our highly media-driven society. Use it your best advantage! It’s easy, it’s fun and it’s vital to the survival of FACS. #Save FACS!!
For info on creating social media circles go to:
Happy National Candy Corn Day!