My journey on Instagram started in college. It served mainly to document the all-important and memorable things about college life, like pictures of food, my roommate’s propped up feet, and well-thought out selfies of my friends and I.
It later morphed into a doggy-gram when I welcomed the love of my life, Mr. Darcy, into my home. It was through Mr. Darcy’s Instagram that I realized how much potential this social media platform could have in a classroom. I met SO MANY PEOPLE. I felt compelled to monitor the number of followers I had, and everyday, I connected with more and more pet enthusiasts who wanted to see daily pictures of my dog. I even met several followers after using my home city of Auburn in hashtags.
When the election came and went, one of my Insta-friends invited me into a chat group with a few others who needed to commiserate. I already had a community to mourn with in the professional world (thankfully, #WATeachLead hosted a chat the following Sunday where we could express our thoughts), and I already had a community to carefully discuss with in my personal life. The group of dog-loving ladies that formed on Instagram, however, was something I could not have anticipated. They were all ladies from different parts of the country, with different beliefs, backgrounds, and professions. We had been united by our support of Mrs. Clinton, of course, but all had come to this support for different reasons. I found this group refreshing. It called to my attention other issues our country was facing, and allowed me to hear from people I would have never met otherwise.
In the past five years, Instagram has grown into one of the most commonly used forms of social media. Your students may or may not be using it– Instagram can’t really compete with SnapChat– but rest assured, probably some of your classroom parents are active Instagrammers. More than anything else, there are hundreds and HUNDREDS of teacher-grams out there that provide opportunities for networking, the sharing of ideas, and your own self-expression.
I set up a classroom Instagram three years ago. I kept it private and mainly used it to post pictures for parents. But then, ClassDojo took over my life and I realized I didn’t need Instagram to connect with parents anymore. Instead, I kept it to connect with other teachers in hopes I could build some of the same community I had seen on Mr. Darcy’s account. I changed my settings to public and started gathering more followers, including district administration and other teachers in my building.
There’s something about looking through a single user’s posts from the comfort of home…after 10-15 pictures, I feel like I get a sense of what their classroom is about. I can start to understand what they are bringing to the table. And it’s like taking a peek inside hundreds of classroom windows all over the country! I also love the live stories you can create about anything you want, like classroom events.
I’ll leave you with this, friends: if you were wondering if Instagram is appropriate for education, it most certainly is. They key is finding who to connect with, who you can grow from, and who can inspire you. I challenge any teacher who is striving to use technology more to explore the learning opportunities Instagram has to offer.
My dog also has an Instagram, and it's better than anyone's. @mrdarcy_theiggy
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