Nebraska Principals & Student-led Social Media Teams

Dr. Jill Johnson

Nebraska Principals & Student-led Social Media Teams

23 Jun 2021     By Jill M. Johnson, Ed.D., 2021

As part of her UNL – UNK doctoral pathway, Dr. Jill Johnson sought to identify the technology leadership qualities possessed by secondary school principals in Nebraska who support student-led social media teams. This study was prompted by the need to address some of the negative ramifications of students’ social media interactions filtering into high schools.

Despite substantial research surrounding technology use in schools, very little focuses on the use of social media. Dr. Johnson utilized the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Education Leaders to drive her study, while conceptualizing the standards to focus specifically on social media technologies. The study identified ten themes ranging from principals providing a niche for a wide variety of student interests, to the need for principals to tell their school's story in order to create a brand and market their school.

Dr. Johnson found the technology leadership qualities of Nebraska principals were exacerbated by the global pandemic, which temporarily shut down Nebraska schools in the spring of 2020. Principals utilizing innovative communication technologies were already preparing for the future, so when these unexpected events occurred, their schools were able to meet the needs of their students. Johnson shared, “Principal participants reported that their growth mindset attitude helped them to move forward confidently because they were experienced in taking mitigated risks in order to provide the best opportunities for their students.”

The study results also suggest the need for principals to harness the power of positive social media, including their personal use of social media and modeling digital citizenship. “The study raises questions about the need for innovative approaches to instructional and social media problems faced by administrators in 21st century schools,” Johnson said. “This includes stronger, more transparent connections among stakeholder groups.”

Johnson noted results may frame student-led social media teams as a powerful tool in the way students connect, learn, and communicate in a global society. “The Nebraska public education system prides itself on local control, which allows local superintendents and school board members to make decisions based on what is best for their constituents.” By focusing on positive aspects of social media such as how to tell a school’s story, how to market the school, and how student-led social media teams offer benefits for students, leaders could alleviate fears and maximize the benefits of positive social media use.

Jill M. Johnson, Ed.D., is completing her fifth year as the assistant principal at Seward High School and transitioning to the role of Class Intercom Division President for Social Assurance. Follow her on Twitter @drjilljohnson.

Educational Administration