Three Reasons to Add Instagram to Your Teaching
A year ago, I attended an educational technology conference hosted by Branson School District in Branson, Mo. At one session, I learned about the possibilities of opening a private Instagram account with my classes. The presenter used a private account with her own classes and encouraged the attendees to consider it for our own classes. Using an Instagram account could be a way that we as teachers could communicate with students in an additional way that would be engaging and topical. It’s important to meet kids at their level with regards to technology, she suggested.
I did just that, and decided at the beginning of the school year to give it a try. The first thing I needed to do was communicate with parents about the new account. This would involve sending home, to interested students only, a form that parents could sign that would inform them of the account and also provide me with the assurance that they were aware of the account and either did or did not permit their child to follow the account.
I plan to use the same flyer again next month. It explains that:
- the account is private, which means that I, as the account’s administrator, am the only one who can allow followers; the public cannot automatically follow the account.
- I will not follow any students in return; this can be confirmed by looking at the account profile.
- their child may possibly appear in posts and if this isn’t allowed, they need to let me know. Again, with a private account, this shouldn’t be an issue, but I want parents to know that I respect their wishes if they don’t want their child appearing in the account. I keep track of permissions and other notes on a roster in my room. Last year, there were only two students whose pictures I was not allowed to post.
- I need to know their child’s Instagram username since many don’t use their actual name. This goes for parents, too. There was space on the form for usernames to be included.
I distributed the Instagram flyers at our open house and then had a stack available for kids to take home during the year. I now have fifty followers on the site, which is roughly half of my total students. I also have about four parents who follow and about four teachers who follow it also.
I do have two students who have requested to follow the account but haven’t turned in their permission slips. Those kids know that they must return the form before I will acknowledge their follow request.
I love my private class Instagram. It has been a real plus for my classes and I’m glad I started it. Here are three reasons why:
- It shows parents at any time exactly what we do in my classes. For example, I had a new student in sixth grade last year. Her mother noticed her daughter in a photo working on an assignment in a post and commented, “Love seeing pictures! Thank you so much!”
- It provides another means of communication with students. I can post reminders or just notify them of upcoming activities. I have even posted some class news over the summer! However, no one is at a disadvantage if they don’t participate or follow the account. There is no grade-related advantage to following. Last year, if there was an interesting post that I wanted to share with everyone, I just showed the post on my phone to interested students in class.
- It provides a record of the year and a record of my teaching. On too many occasions to count, I’ve scrolled back through posts to see exactly when we did a particular activity. It also is an incredibly convenient way to share my work with others.
If you’ve ever thought about using Instagram in your own classes, I would definitely give it a try. It will undoubtedly add an exciting, new dimension to the dynamics of your classroom for the new school year!