Creating a compelling story of schools, together

Over the past decade, I have heard a lot about the idea of “branding” in education, and I have always struggled with the concept. The focus is often “telling a story” that shares the many accomplishments of your school or district, and although I am a big advocate of making great learning go viral, creating a story together with your community comes before telling a story.

Here is an example; you have an incredible social media team, presence, or even one person running accounts telling your school’s stories, and it gets attention nationally and maybe even internationally.


So what happens when a child goes home, and they say how much they hate school? Does the caregiver say, “No! That can’t be true! I saw an incredible post on Twitter that tells a much different story than what you are sharing!”

Stories of any school are not limited to being told by only those in administration but can be shared by the entire community.

“Branding” should be a byproduct of creating an amazing organization, not the focus.

Now I do believe that sharing the great stories of your school community is in any way negative? I guess it depends.

For example, I remember talking to one educator, and they said to me, “The most innovative thing about our school district is our communications department. What they share on social media does not look like what we see in our schools.”

That always stuck with me.

Yet in “The Innovator’s Mindset,” I shared the following:

“Sharing our stories about our learning and the ways we empower students helps us make the emotional connections that drives change…Stories can become the fuel to innovation in education.”

If I could go back and add to those pages, what I would say now is that stories are the fuel for innovation in our schools, but it is more important that we create a compelling story together than it is for any one person (or department) to tell a narrative of something that isn’t the norm.

Create a compelling story that your community can tell together.

In that order.