How many of you remember those words as the first line of the song “If” by David Gates and Bread?  (And no, he’s not related to Bill Gates).

As the leader of your school, if you can’t put your vision for your school into a picture, then it’s an excellent idea to have a vision narrative (of a thousand words or more) rather than just a vision statement.  The more vibrant the description of your vision, the more people will become excited about it, and emotional engagement leads to action.

But what if you don’t have a “vision” for your school?  Perhaps you just don’t have time to “look ahead,” and you’re way too busy simply maintaining and managing what’s happening at your school, especially if you don’t know what’s on the horizon for the coming school year – on site, off site, both, hybrid, more students through distance learning only, less students since parents may not be able to afford tuition, etc. – as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  If that’s the case, recall the words of the book of Proverbs: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).

Let’s say you do have a vision for your school, have a detailed description of it contained in a vision narrative, and have published it on your school’s Web site.  Your “thousand words” create a picture of where you see your school down the road.

What about right now?  If a picture is worth a thousand words, then how many words is a video worth?  Do you have a video of your school – a virtual tour, so to speak – on your school’s Web site?

No?  Then that needs to change.  Five years ago, I said it would need to change “real soon.”  Today, “real soon” is here.  Get one.

With YouTube and other free video channels out there, as well as the ability to create video with today’s technology, there’s no reason not to have a virtual tour available to parents that want to get an idea of what your school is like before they visit to evaluate whether it’s the right educational environment for their child.  You know it is…but you must convince the parents of that.  Remember that getting them into your school will get them emotionally connected to your school.  However, if they like what they see on the Internet, since it’s the new face of your school, then there’s even more of a chance they’ll call you rather you trying to constantly reach out to families by traditional marketing techniques.

Is it expensive?  It doesn’t have to be.

This topic provides a great opportunity for a bit of a detour to demonstrate how fast technology changes, and, if you’re not “into,” “up on,” “interested in,” or “engaged with” technology, whether due to fear about security issues or how it’s transforming education, then there’s a good chance that parents won’t be interested in enrolling their children in your school.

Ten years ago, when I first posted this article, there was a pocket-sized video device called “The Flip” that allowed the user to record video and sound.  When you were done recording, you could plug it to your computer via a USB port and transfer the file for editing or posting.  It cost less than $150, and sometimes, one could find it on sale at electronics or local office supply stores or online.  The year before I posted the article, the maker of The Flip, Pure Digital Technologies, was purchased by Cisco Systems for $950 million.  Then, in April of 2011, less than a year after I wrote the initial article, Cisco announced it would exit all aspects of its consumer business, and discontinued The Flip due to the rise in popularity of “Smartphones” and their camera/video capabilities.

As I’ve said time and time again to schools that ask, “What about those parents that don’t have a computer and Internet access,” it’s the wrong question to ask.  The question to ask parents is, “How do you access the Internet?”  If they say they don’t, then they’re going to setting their children up for failure – and oh how incredibly true that is at this point in history!  However, if they say they don’t have a computer, chances are good that they have a tablet or some type of phone that can access the Internet.  That’s really not a “Smartphone” they have in their pocket or purse – that’s a hand-held computer.  Similarly, if you have one of those devices, you can shoot video.  Of course, you’ll need to have the proper legal releases if you plan to include children and/or parents in the video.

If you’re not adept at video production, however, it may be helpful to enlist the assistance of those who have significant experience.  Sure, that could include video production professionals, but it could also include the students as “producers” rather than as “subjects.”  This way, you’re not showing your students at work, but displaying their efforts and creativity, demonstrating what they’ve created to those who visit your school’s Web site, showing what they like about “their” school!  That’s a pretty powerful message to parents seeking a remarkable place for their children’s educational experience.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2010-2020 (Original Publication Date: 20100517)