BC Counsellor - Winter 2014 - (Page 9)

Feature Embracing Social Media in Guidance and Career Education By Rod Conte, Head of Guidance and Career Education, Westmount Collegiate Institute, York Region District School Board Three years ago, a student asked me, "Why does the school use email to communicate with students when no one uses email anymore?" In this case "no one" referred to the Westmount student body. I replied, "Then how should we be communicating with you?" To which he answered, "With Facebook, sir, everyone is on Facebook." At the time I had a personal Facebook page but really didn't spend much time on it. I used it mostly as a way to stay connected with family and friends. I'm certainly not one to update my status every hour on the hour. Honestly, does anyone really care whether I just had "the best breakfast ever" or that "I can't wait until Friday"? My initial thought was "Facebook! How much work is that going to be?" Not that much, it turns out! It required the same level of effort as writing the morning announcements and a lot less time than having to organize an assembly or visiting individual classes. Don't get me wrong, we still have to do the occasional assembly and we still visit classrooms when necessary, but not as much. It took me about five minutes to set up the Facebook account and publish our first post, "Westmount Guidance is now on Facebook." Once the word got out, the friend requests started pouring in. Initially, we advertised our new Facebook page to Grade 12 students only. The intention was to use Facebook as the primary communication tool with our potential graduates. We began posting items such as graduation updates, news from colleges and universities, scholarship opportunities, job posting and requests for volunteers, just to name a few. Soon after, Grade 11 students began sending friend requests; they were also interested in the information being posted. Surprisingly, soon after, parents and guardians started sending friend requests as well. Westmount Facebook had now become the primary tool for parents and guardians to keep updated on school activities. We also started creating events on Facebook for important assemblies such as semi-formal and graduation. We cross-linked with several student organizations' Facebook fan pages. The Westmount Gay Straight Alliance and Poetry Group were the first school groups that linked their page to ours. Since Facebook worked so well for us, we decided to expand our reach by using Twitter. I have to admit that Twitter has become my preferred social media tool. It's simple, straight forward and to the point. BC Counsellor | Winter 2013-14 | www.bcschoolcounsellor.com You have 140 characters to post a message. There is no maintenance of friend requests, no lists and no privacy settings to worry about. It's a great way to blast out quick messages and announcements. Most recently, we have been tweeting live from events such as College and University Dialogue Days and College and University Counsellor breakfasts. Currently, Westmount Guidance has over 351 friends made up primarily of Grade 12 students, some Grade 11, 10 and 9 students, and parents/guardians. Some are even Westmount graduates who have decided to stay connected with their high school. Our Twitter account @ WCIGuidance has 243 followers and we follow 70 individuals and organizations. continued on page 16 9 http://www.bcschoolcounsellor.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BC Counsellor - Winter 2014

President’s Message
The Fine Print
Social Media 101
Embracing Social Media in Guidance and Career Education
Top 10 iPad Counselor Apps
BCSCA Conference 2013 — Full Coverage!
Counsellor’s Corner
Index to Advertisers

BC Counsellor - Winter 2014