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Virtual Shadow Study, ED 605

Eric Sheninger

K. Betler

Twitter: @NMHS_Principal, @E_Sheninger
Blog: A Principal’s Reflections,
Google Plus:
Youtube Channel:

About Eric Sheninger:
• Senior Fellow & Thought Leader on Digital Leadership with International Center for Leadership in
Education (ICLE) and Scholastic Achievement Partners (SAP).
• Prior to this he was the award-winning Principal at New Milford High School
• Created framework for transforming school cultures, Pillars of Digital Leadership
• Focuses on social media and web 2.0 technology tools
• Bammy Award winner (2013)
• NASSP Digital Principal Award winner (2012), PDK Emerging Leader Award recipient (2012)
• Learning Forward's Excellence in Professional Practice Award (20 12)
• Google Certified Teacher
• Adobe Education Leader
• ASCD 2011 Conference Scholar
• Has authored and co-authored the following: Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing
Times , Communicating and Connecting With Social Media: Essentials for Principals , What Principals
Need to Know About Teaching and Learning Science
• Co-created Edscape Conference
• Sits on FEA Board of Directors
• Named to the NSBA "20 to Watch" list in 2010 for technology leadership
• TIME Magazine also identified Eric as having one of the 140 Best Twitter Feeds in 2014
• His blog, A Principal's Reflections, was selected as Best School Administrator Blog in 2013 and 2011
by Edublogs

Eric began his career in education as a Science Teacher at Watchung Hills Regional High School where he taught a
variety of subjects (Biology, Chemistry, Marine Biology, Ecology) and coached several sports (ice hockey, football,
lacrosse). He then transitioned into the field of educational administration as an Athletic Director/Supervisor of
Physical Education & Health and Vice Principal in the New Milford School District. During his administrative career
he has served as District Affirmative Action Officer and was the president of the New Milford Administrator’s
Association. During his tenure as high school principal he successfully implemented numerous initiatives including a
new teacher evaluation system (McREL), oversaw Common Core implementation, and initiated a new grading
philosophy. Eric received his M.Ed. in Educational Administration from East Stroudsburg University, B.S. in Biology
from Salisbury University, and his B.S. in Marine/Environmental Science from the University of Maryland Eastern
Shore. (

My Favorite Videos:, Eric Sheninger on Digital Leadership as Principal, Eric Sheninger Leadership 2.0, EduVue Talks #digilead with Eric Sheninger
My Favorite Blogposts:
! Learning that Matters 9/21/14:
! Roadmap to a Job-Embedded Growth Model
My Favorite Tweets:
! 5 Tips For Keeping Students On Task While Using Technology via @Edudemic  
! Technology Integration Matrix
! 8 Tips to Create a Twitter-Driven School Culture via @edutopia  
My Favorite Articles: (Huffington Post)
! Schools Need to Work Better for Kids than Adults
! Control Will Be the Demise of Education
! The Device Conundrum
! The True Value of Technology

Reflection Questions

What are the major affordances of social media for school leaders?

“If we don’t tell our story, someone else will, and more often than not, another’s version will not be the one we
want told” (Sheninger, Teach Thought 2013).
From my research on Eric Sheninger’s experience with social media as a high school principal, I found
the greatest affordances of social media is the power to use it for public relations. While we might not want to
believe it, our students and their parents are our customers and it is up to use to sell what we are doing in our
schools. I have seen this evident more than ever before in my school as we just recently went through passing a
bond issue for a new school last year. So much of our work was dedicated to communicating our vision for our
district and how that was going to positively impact student achievement. We had to sell our vision of learning
and education in general and convince the community we were worth their investment…we had to tell our
story and share out what great things were already going on in our buildings and how our teachers were worth
investing in new technology and resources.

What, if anything, concerns you about school leaders using social media?

“ Leaders can leverage social media tools to create a positive brand presence that emphasizes the
positive aspects of school culture, increases community pride, and helps to attract/retain families
when looking for a place to send their children to school”(Sheninger, Teach Thought 2013).

I think, if anything, the one concern I would have with school leaders using social media is the
fact that we do not want to completely turn education into a product that needs to be sold or marketed.
While I would agree with Sheninger that branding is important, it would take a concerted effort to not let that
become a focus of our work in schools instead of improving instruction, designing engaging work, and
increasing student achievement. I believe public relations is a large part of what we do and often and
overlooked part; however, without high teacher quality and expectations, there is nothing to market.

Considering the Ohio Standards for Principals and the ELCC Standards (building- and/or district-level)
and all the things school leaders are expected to know and be able to do, where does social media fit?

“We can now form the foundation of a positive public relations platform using free social media tools
where we control the content. By doing so, we create the means by which we share all of the
positives associated with our schools and create a much needed level of transparency in an age of
negative rhetoric toward education” (Sheninger, Teach Thought 2013)
While the number of responsibilities and the level of expectations for school leaders have
definitely increased in recent years, communication to the community, staff, students, parents, and other
administrators still has to fall toward the top of the “to-do” list. If a school leader that implements influential
programs, improves staff instruction, and builds positive school culture does not share out the positive things
going on in their school, their impact will not be as great. All stakeholders need to continuously be aware and
frequently reminded of all the good going on in their schools and what their role is in sustaining those effective
practices. I believe social media allows school leaders to do this in an efficient manner that reaches the most

If social media learning is considered informal, should it count as formal professional development?

“With the rise of social media, schools no longer have to be silos of information and leaders do not
have to feel like they are on isolated islands that lack support and feedback. Leaders can form
their own Personal Learning Network (PLN) to meet our diverse learning needs, acquire resources,
access knowledge, receive feedback, connect with both experts in the field of education as well
as practitioners, and discuss proven strategies to improve teaching, learning, and leadership”
(Sheninger, Teach Thought 2013).
Until recently, most professional development sessions consisted of listening to presentations,
watching PowerPoints, and reading textbooks/articles of research in the field. Now, in professional
development sessions we see teachers texting, tweeting, creating Prezis, creating Blendspaces,
recording videos, using hashtags, and more. I think what challenges us the most in viewing social
media as formal is the fact that it overlaps with a lot of informal social practices. Hashtags are
now being used for incredibly vulgar phrases and comments, but yet are also used for trending
effective practices or developing theories. It stretches us to understand that social media can
serve a dual role. I believe social media can definitely be used as formal professional
development due to the fact that there is a lot of useful, productive information that can be
found through social media. I also think it is helpful that, unlike the web, we are able to
personalize the information, make recommendations, and filter through other professionals.