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7 Ways Innovative Teachers Use Instagram

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7 Ways Innovative Teachers Use Instagram

Why do innovative teachers embrace social media?

      Think about the qualities of an effective 21st century educator. You are probably picturing someone who is highly adaptable, constantly inspired, and strongly connected with both students and fellow educators. You can find many teachers with these qualities on social media platforms like Twitter and Pinterest, which are popular online communities that innovative educators use to build a personal learning network, share ideas, discover new technologies, and find inspiration.

      Hashtag-happy teachers who prefer verbal communication and seek social networking opportunities often turn to Twitter, where 4.2 million education-related tweets are shared every day, according to EdSurge. More visual-minded and crafty educators, seeking ideas and inspiration, use Pinterest to communicate through photographs and graphic designs. If you consider yourself to be an effective and innovative 21st century teacher, then you are likely a frequent user of one of these platforms and have benefited immensely from using them. Unfortunately, the pros of Twitter and Pinterest have a limited amount of overlap, which leads one to wonder where an educator can go to experience a combination of both.

How can innovative teachers use Instagram?

      Enter Instagram (or IG for short), which has over 300 million active users every month. You have probably heard your students talking about tagging, liking, and “Throwback Thursdays,” but you, like many teachers, may be unfamiliar with how powerful of a tool IG can actually be. You can think of the Facebook-owned platform like a constantly updating scrapbook of images portraying the experiences and interests of the people and groups that matter the most to you. IG combines the categorize-by-hashtag system used by Twitter with the image-driven nature of Pinterest to create a place where educators can come to network, share and discover new ideas, and interact with each other on a more personal level.

     Instagram's popularity is rapidly growing as the network continues to posture itself amongst the more established social media platforms. When Twitter first showed up, many educators were hesitant to use it for professional reasons. After all, Twitter was a place where people would go to get the latest juicy gossip on Justin Bieber and Kanye West or to follow their favorite professional athletes. But it was not long before educators realized that they could choose which accounts they followed and had control over the people or groups that they were networking with. The same realization is happening right now with Instagram. Yes, Justin Bieber is on there, but you don’t have to follow him or any other person or group that does not interest you.

      At this point, you may find yourself entertaining the tired thought that you simply do not have the time to learn how to use another social media platform. That reluctance is understandable, but it is important for effective 21st century teachers to be adaptable, especially in our ever-evolving educational landscape. The good news is that IG is one of the easiest social media platforms to learn—in fact, you will be able to use Instagram within moments of your first login, which is one of the reasons why it has become so popular. If you are looking for an explicit guide to getting started, this Instagram Cheat Sheet by Gear & Style will get you up and running in no time.

      Teachers utilize the power of social media in many different ways, but we are all driven by the goal of growing as educators. Here are 7 specific ways that you can use Instagram to make yourself a more effective teacher:

1.) Networking With Other Educators

     Innovative teachers want to build large and diverse personal learning networks and Instagram is a great place for you to find like-minded educators and groups to connect with. There are thousands of inspiring and insightful teachers on IG and using hashtags like #TeachersFollowTeachers or #TeachersOfInstagram will help you to find them. 

Check Out: @TeachingSpecialThinkers focuses exclusively on Special Education.

2.) Follow Education Groups

      Teachers can learn about new technologies, lesson ideas, and recent studies by following popular education groups on IG. Similar to Twitter, following the right accounts can expose you to all of the things going on in education. You can use #education for a general search, but you can also use something specific like #STEM or #edtech as well.

Check Out: @Edutopia focuses on general education tips and inspiration.

 3.) Learn More About Your Content Area

      Instagram is a great place to interact with content-area-specific pages. These pages share posts that follow a theme like @NatGeo for geography and world events, @ASAPscience for science, and @MashUpMath for mathematics education.

Check Out: @MashUpMath focuses on math tips, challenges, and insights. 

4.) Showcase Student Work

      Lets face it: you are an amazing and creative teacher. You put tons of effort into planning engaging activities for your students. Shouldn’t you be sharing your awesomeness with the world? Well, on Instagram you can—and this kind of sharing between teachers is nothing short of inspiring.

Check Out: @WhatTheTeacherWants focuses on showcasing student work.

5.) Express Yourself

      You are more than just a teacher. Instagram is fun because you can gain a closer and more personal look into the lives of the people that you care about. Go ahead and share some posts about you. What book are you currently reading? What restaurants do you love? What park did you jog through this morning? 

Check Out: @CC2theJ is run by Chris Johnson: a middle school math teacher by day and Spartan Ninja Warrior by night!

6.) Access Teacher Resources

      Many users with Teachers-Pay-Teachers (TPT) accounts utilize Instagram to share their lessons and activities. This is a great way to stay up to date with your favorite accounts and you can often access exclusive discount codes. 

Check Out: @TeachersPayTeachers currently has over one hundred thousand followers!

7.) Promote Your Club/Organization/School

      Innovative school's use Instagram to celebrate all of the wonderful things that their students are doing both in school and in the community. Instagram is a great way to promote fundraisers, field trips, and sporting events.

Check Out: Xavier High School in New York (@XavierHS) uses IG promote their students and their school.

 

by Anthony Persico

Anthony is the content crafter and head educator for MashUp Math. You can often find me happily developing animated math lessons to share on my YouTube channel. Or spending way too much time at the gym or playing on my phone.

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Social Media in Education: Using Instagram with Your Students

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Social Media in Education: Using Instagram with Your Students

Social Media in Education: Using Instagram with Your Students

Is there a place for social media in education?

Most teachers hold a firm stance against interacting with students on social media. With the incredible influence that online social networks have on all of our lives, are we making a mistake by erring on the side of caution and not connecting with our students online?

Be sure to get permission from your school's administration before starting an Instagram account for your classroom.

Be sure to get permission from your school's administration before starting an Instagram account for your classroom.

 Any teacher with a desire to keep his job knows the importance of shielding his personal social accounts from students. We all share the fears of having our private lives exposed and choose to simply avoid communicating with students online, but before teachers consider this practice to be off-limits, I want to introduce you to a safe approach to using Instagram as an online platform for connecting students and strengthening your classroom community.

Recent studies show that more than 52% of teens choose Instagram as their go-to social media outlet. If you teach teenage students, then you are teaching avid users of the image-driven social platform, which now boasts over 400 million members. Instagram has become a powerful tool for connecting people via photography and graphic designs and images.

Unfortunately, teachers have been slow to adopt Instagram as a tool for connecting with students. Many teachers are unaware of the potential benefits of establishing a social community for their classroom, while others are unsure of where to start. These 7 tips will help you to get over any potential fears and to establish a safe and transparent online student community using Instagram:

1.)   Get Approval and Be Transparent:

Before you even consider creating an instagram account as an online community for your students, get approval from your school’s administration first. Every district has a specific social media policy, which you will have to abide by. Since this account is for educational purposes, you should share the Instagram website url with administrators and parents as well as on your teacher website.

2.)   Create an Account That is Specific to Your Classroom

Keeping your username professional and your account public allows easy access for students, parents, and administrators.

Keeping your username professional and your account public allows easy access for students, parents, and administrators.

Once you get the green light from administration, it’s time to create a new Instagram account that is used exclusively for education purposes. The username that you choose should be professional and simple. A handle like @MrJohnsonsMathClass communicates the educational nature of the page and is easy for students and parents to find. Remember that this account is an extension of you and your classroom so keep it professional. It is also recommended that you keep your page public so that users and non-users of instagram can access it from a mobile device or PC.

 3.)   Following: 0

The purpose of this account is to share educational posts with students and to moderate discussions. You can encourage your students to follow your page (they can still interact with your posts even if they are not followers), but forbear following any students back. The only place where you will interact with students is in the comments section of your posts.

4.) Keep Your Posts Simple and Use Captions

You don’t have to be a professional photographer or a graphic designer to post on Instagram. Simple images like a photograph of the homework assignment written on a white-board or a screen shot from a website will work fine. 

5.) Use #CustomHashtags

Your Instagram page will be a place where students can find informative posts and reminders as well as ask each other questions. Using a custom hashtag, like #MrsDeSotoAlgebra2 will make your posts searchable by class and allow students to contribute posts as well.

In the role of a moderator, a teacher can gently guide a discussion in a way that lets students draw their own conclusions.

In the role of a moderator, a teacher can gently guide a discussion in a way that lets students draw their own conclusions.

6.) Be A Moderator

My favorite aspect of using Instagram with students is having the hands-off role of the moderator. You will have to choose what your role will be, but it can be pretty awesome to sit back and watch your students answering each other’s questions and explaining their thinking. As the teacher, you can add a guiding question or thought to steer discussions where you want them to go.

7.) Teach Digital Citizenship

Never assume that your students know how to appropriately interact online. Set aside some class time to discuss ways to be a responsible digital citizen. This process will be a little shaky in the beginning, but students will quickly get the hang of communicating with each other and expressing themselves in an appropriate way. Be sure that you  model desired behavior and communicate clear expectations and consequences with students before you start.

With these 7 tips in mind, now may be the perfect time to flip the script on how we think about interacting with our students on social media. 

Tags: social media, education, instagram, elearning, online learning, community, edtech 

 

By Anthony Persico

Anthony Persico is the content crafter and head educator for MashUp Math. You can often find me happily developing animated math lessons to share on my YouTube channel . Or spending way too much time at the gym or playing on my phone.

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