It’s Monday morning and the children are eager to come to school. On a normal day, they are greeted with a “Hello” or “Good morning. How was your weekend?” But today Ben walks through our doors and I say, “Hello Ben. How was your day out with Thomas the train?” And right then, something amazing happens.
Ben looks at me like I am almost magical. How did I know that he saw Thomas over the weekend? Is she psychic? Clearly she must be magical! Little did he know about my secret super power known as Facebook. Instead of simply saying hello back to me, Ben went into an excited story about his weekend adventures. This is what I call the Facebook connection; a special moment that would not have happened so easily and naturally without the super powers of social media.
So how did we gain these super powers? It certainly did not happen overnight and we weren’t bitten by a spider. It was a complex formula of trainings from the Jewish Community Center Association and Darim Online, mixed with dedication, teamwork and trial and error. We began by posting more and simply having a more visible presence on Facebook. Then, with the encouragement of Darim Online, we included more people to be admins and curators on our page and asked parents and staff to be intentional commenters. Along this journey we started to find out what worked well for our program and what posts were reaching farther outside our norm. Those that were successful we would duplicate when we could. For example, our Monday Morning Mystery.
Each Monday we would post three clues about a teacher and encourage our fans to guess who it was and the winner would receive a free challah on Friday when we revealed the teacher. We had so much fun with this that it actually evolved into baby pictures of staff rather than clues. Through this our families were learning more about our teachers and seeing into their lives a little more. And we were beginning to learn more about our families’ lives outside of the JCC through their posts, too. The Facebook connection was happening. Teachers and parents began to playfully banter through our posts. Parents began to see a more social, but still professional side of our staff. Relationships began to grow and our overall sense of community became stronger. Throughout the year we have heard our parents and fellow JCC staff tell us things like, “I love what you are doing on Facebook,” and “I check your page every morning to see what fun things you have posted.” For that alone we will continue to grow our community and keep our posts alive and fun. We have hopes of infusing more educational pieces for our fans and continuing to create an environment of discussion through our page. Until then, we will keep letting the children think we magically know what they do when they are not at school!
Shannon Hall is the Assistant Director of the Infant and Toddler program at the Pitt CDC. Shannon, along with Fredelle Schneider, Director, Robin Herman, Assistant Director of Preschool and several of the Pitt CDC teaching staff has participated in the Detroit Jewish Early Childhood Social Media Academy this year, coordinated by the Alliance for Jewish Education at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, and generously funded by the Hermelin-Davidson Center for Congregation Excellence.