#TeacherLife - Finding a PLN on Instagram
The meteoric rise of Instagram over the last few years is common knowledge. But if you look past the influencers, advertisements, and viral videos, you will find a thriving community of teachers posting daily inspiration, relatable content, and some awesome lesson ideas! Here are some steps on how you can join this community and find your personal learning network on your favorite social media platform.
First, ask yourself why you want to join Teacher-gram:
Looking for inspiration for classroom decor or creative lessons?
Want to share some of the work your rockstar students are doing every day?
Trying to promote your blog or TPT store?
If you already have a personal account, you will need to decide if you want to change over your IG to a teacher account, or start a second one to start engaging in this community. For early career educators, starting a brand-new teacher IG during your last year of pre-service or your first year teaching is the best route. Your students will most definitely look for you on social media, and it is always best to keep your private life actually private!
Grab a teacher handle, like @miss[your last name here]teaches5th or @[your last name here]classroom (or something more creative and personal!) and connect it to your personal email, not your school email. Then, you need to decide if you want this account to be public or private: do you want parents and students to follow this account? What you want to gain from joining this community (support, collaboration, inspiration, etc)? I personally have my teacher account public, and my students and parents have really appreciated this transparency and celebration of what we are accomplishing in my classroom. But this is all up to you!
Then you need to find people to follow. This list from Michaela Fischer (@thetownieteacher) is a constantly-growing list of awesome educators on Instagram for every middle and high school grade level and content area. Also, search some of the popular IG hashtags for teachers and follow some of those rockstar teachers:
I also like checking out what the next generation of teachers is doing at #studentteacher, and finding some new ideas for #classroomdecor!
Once you’ve started following teachers, it’s time to join the conversation! Instagram Stories are a great way to share a quick classroom anecdote or highlight, and it disappears in 24 hours. You could also collect it in a Story Highlight, if you wanted to save moments from specific units or about a recurring topic. When you post photos, tag the accounts where you received your inspiration, and use some hashtags in the caption to connect to a larger audience.
Now that you are engaging in this community like a pro, Instagram has a really awesome feature where you can save posts you like to Collections. If you see a post you want to learn more about or try in the future, tap the little flag in the bottom right hand corner of the image. This will save it to your Collections, and you can easily find it at a later date! To access your Collections, go to your Profile and tap the 3 lines in the top right corner near your handle, and select ‘Saved’ from the menu. This is a super helpful time-saver for when you are inspired but don’t have time to fully engage in a conversation in the moment.
I’ve always found that teachers who share their work to the public are also willing to chat in direct messages - don’t be afraid to reach out and have a longer conversation about some of the ideas you want to try in your classroom! The biggest unspoken rule around the IG community is to always give credit where credit is due. If you try out a cool idea you found, shout out the source of your inspiration! Instagram can be an incredible resource, but just like in a face-to-face PLN, say thanks! Speaking of face-to-face PLNs, a lot of networks also have a strong social media presence. Groups like the Teach Better Team, the Young Educators Society of RI, or the National Education Association, are constantly sharing resources and opportunities, especially for beginning teachers. Some alumni networks are also starting to hop on the trend - check to see if your alma mater has an alumni teaching network!
I wish you all the best of luck diving into this fantastic network, and I can’t wait to connect with you all on Instagram!