Using Social Media to Build Team Resilience
From Nefertiti B. Poyner, Ed.D. | Early Childhood Specialist & National Trainer
I have a confession to make. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share this with the “world,” but I think I will go ahead and take the risk. My confession: I do not like social media. I know…can you believe it? Here we are in 2018 and I still do not like social media.
Now that I have your attention, let me tell you what my real confession is…
I hope the opening of this article had made you want to read more. I really did have a love-hate relationship with all types of social media. I started my Facebook account with nine friends and that was fine with me. I have a Twitter account, but I don’t tweet. I also have an Instagram account. I post from time to time, btu if you wanted to know if I was alive and doing well, my social media accounts would not tell you much. But in August of 2017, social media taught me a lesson that I had to experience in order to change my perspective.
In August, my little brother (two years my junior) suddenly passed away. This time continues to be one of adjustment for my family, but we are doing okay. Interestingly, during the celebration of my brother’s life, Facebook was constantly on my mind. Why? My brother was an avid Facebook “poster.” He would post things that made our mom cringe, made his friends cry with laughter, and made his wife say, “only my husband.” My brother and I grew up in Philadelphia. As an adult, my brother made his life in Virginia with his family. As a result, when we held my brother’s funeral, we expected friends and family to come from multiple locations, and that is just what happened. Old friends, work friends, family friends and of course family joined to celebrate the kind spirit my brother was. You may still be wondering why Facebook was on my mind during this difficult time of my life – after all, there were so many other things I could have been thinking about. What I learned during the celebration of my brother’s life was this: social media can be a powerful tool to unite hearts, minds and spirits. Almost every person that attended my brother’s funeral was able to exchange stories of his latest political post, an image from his work life or the numerous photos he would post of his children (did I say numerous?). His posts allowed all of us to share a common understanding of who he was. Of course, this understanding only scratched the surface of who he was, but it was a wonderful shared experience nonetheless. Days after my brother’s passing, I could not log onto Facebook. I just could not do it. It hurt too much. As soon as I was able to gather the gumption, I took the steps to have his account closed and removed from Facebook.
Now, several months later, I am still not a Facebook or social media “junkie,” but I do better understand the power of connection it can create when used properly. I saw it happen with my own eyes. It is this connection that I would like to think more about, as we ponder ways to support each other in programs and classrooms across the country. Our children are watching the way we care for ourselves and one another, so let’s make sure we are setting a good example.
Julie Mickley and the members of her leadership team are working to set a good example. In January, Julie started a closed Facebook group called “Build Your Bounce.” When Julie told me about the group, I immediately wanted to join. But because it is a closed Facebook group, I needed to be approved by the group administrator first – Julie. She consulted with the members of her group and they allowed me to join! As a member of the group, I don’t post anything. Rather, I watch in an effort to learn how this approach can be used to support the wellness of adults in programs. I could tell you more about Julie and her group, but instead, I encourage you to watch my interview with Julie. During this interview, you will hear Julie explain more about her group, its goals, and the future direction the group’s efforts might take. One thing you’ll hear Julie say is that a closed Facebook group is only a small start; a small effort and a small beginning to address a big effort that needs attention from all involved stakeholders. Please take just a little bit of time to watch this brief interview, and think about creative ways you can use social media or other approaches to surround your programs in wellness practices that promote social-emotional health and resilience. We understand that different programs have rules and policies regarding social media. This article is not advocating for the use of only social media; what we are suggesting is that programs think creatively about ways to build relationships among staff, address staff wellness, and create workplace environments where staff are engaged and where they can thrive.
In addition to watching my interview with Julie, please also consider the following:
Document – Taking a look at the Eat Smart, Move More of North Carolina. It offers great tips on starting a school employee wellness program. Check it out!
Webinar – If you are a member of Head Start, you may be interested in a recent webinar we hosted in conjunction with the National Head Start Association (NHSA). During this webinar, we discuss the Nurturing Staff Wellness Toolkit offered through NHSA membership. We also discuss how programs can think about meeting the Head Start Performance Standards specific to staff wellness. Check out the webinar recording.
We wish you the best on your staff wellness journey!