When I ventured into the social media world of teachers, I honestly knew nothing about Instagram, let alone had any concept of how HUGE it is in the educational realm. Whereas I knew some social media platforms, like Twitter, are huge in educational circles, I really had no idea how big Instagram is for teachers. The honest reason why? I had no one in my immediate teacher tribe that used Instagram for teaching. Isn’t that how it works for teachers? Unless you go out of your way to research something, the only way you have any idea of what is out there is by word of mouth. If you have no one telling you about something, how do you even know it’s a thing?
Now, I’ve discussed before other social media that is beneficial for teachers. Honestly, we should all be doing whatever we can to reach outside of our classrooms to see what else is out there. So many of our colleagues have such amazing ideas we might never think of ourselves. It is some of the best professional development you can come across. As the “un-conference” movement gains momentum, it is only fitting that we have the ability to take care of our personal professional development needs in a few minutes here and there as we have the time. Instagram is an easy way to do this. If you are unfamiliar with how the platform works in general, here is a great YouTube tutorial that explains it’s basic functions.
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Instagram for Teachers
So on a whim, I started an Instagram page for Student-Centered World. WOW. I mean, WOW. At first, just like any other new platform, it takes a minute to get used to. I found it helpful to have a step-by-step guide, like this one, to walk me through the process to get everything set up. The nice part is that Instagram suggests people to follow based off how you set up your account, so right away I had teachers popping up. I started following them and many reciprocated.
There’s also “Follow Loops” on Instagram. Multiple people post the same photograph and caption and then you follow those who do the same. I have found SO MANY fantastic educators through these loops. They have a tendency to pop up on the weekends for teachers since that is when most people have some leisurely time to scroll through their feeds. Every week I am utterly blown away as I scroll through to see what these other educators are doing in their classrooms. It is the epitome of “Wow, I can TOTALLY do that in my class!”.
This is when the ah-ha moments began. Teachers on Instagram are constantly posting photos of what they do in the classroom. Many also have Teachers Pay Teachers stores and they showcase their products and how they’re actually used in the classroom. I LOVE following Ashley at TeachCreateMotivate and Kayse at TeachingOnLess. Ashley has some of the most amazing posts and sells her products not only on Teachers Pay Teachers, but also has pop-up sales for clothing, mugs, etc. She is one of those teachers you want to be when you grow up, for sure. Kayse also has a flourishing Teachers Pay Teachers store, but has branched out from the classroom and now trains teachers on how to have their own Teachers Pay Teachers success. Her insta-stories are also fabulous and I look forward to watching them every day. In addition, both of them have AMAZING podcasts that you will love. You’ll want to make sure to follow both of them!
Following other teachers is not the only benefit of having a school Instagram. It is also a great way to communicate with your students’ parents. From a very young age, children start clamming up about what happens in school. When the conversation turns into “How was school?” “Good”, it is difficult to judge what is actually going on in the classroom. Fortunately, Instagram is an easy way to show your parents some highlights of what is happening. You can add to your feed or you can add to your story. The feed is a photo that one has to scroll down the page to find, whereas the story is right up at the top of your screen and is prominent for 24 hours.
My only regret is that I didn’t find Instagram sooner. The benefits of Instagram for teachers is beyond all expectations I had. Did you know you can create your own hashtag for your class? To boot, you can follow certain hashtags that have a connection with you and what you teach. For instance, I always follow #studentcentered and #teachergram. There are SO MANY possibilities though. Check out just a few that I follow:
…and there are SO MANY OTHERS worth following, including those that are grade level or subject area specific. The more you play around on the platform, the more goodness you will find. To connect with so many like-minded educators in one place is such a fantastic way to grow your teaching tribe. I can’t tell you how many ideas I have gotten from a simple photo or quote that someone has posted. It is well worth the few minutes it may take to get acclimated to the platform. Give Instagram a try….you’ll be shocked at how much it will change what you’re doing in the classroom!
For some more information on how to start up your Instagram to ultimately turn it into a bit of side hustle, you can check out this book that explains how. This is a bit more complex than having it as a simple professional development tool, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that this is a possiblity for you as well!