Monday, March 16, 2015

Instagram for Teachers


Teachers are frequently asking for easy ways to manage their classroom images. They want a quick and convenient way to communicate information to parents and the community. Teachers have utilized Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and other social media outlets. Instagram is a great platform because you can post to all three and embed the images on your class blog/website.

Last week I "put the cart before the horse" and posted about how to put an "Instagram Badge" on your class blog. It seemed somewhat important to provide a little information about using an Instagram account. So here is a quick overview of how to use Instagram on your mobile device:
Before you jump into Instagram and other forms of social media for your classroom, here are some tips:  
  1. Keep students' names (especially students under 13) out of your posts. If you accidentally get a name tag in your image, you can easily blur it out with Skitch. It is important to respect their privacy as you want parents to be an advocate, not an adversary for you. 
  2. Find out if you have parents that have revoked permission to post images of their children. East Noble Schools has a policy that parents sign at the beginning of the year granting permission to use photos of students on websites and social media. Occasionally there are parents that refuse to sign the policy. Make sure you are aware of any parents that deny permission.
  3. Use the square photo feature in iOS. Instagram's photos are in a square format. I recommend using your regular iOS camera and posting to Instagram later instead of taking the picture directly from the Instagram app. This allows the teacher to review their pictures before posting. 
  4. Keep Instagram for professional purposes. It is wise to keep your personal photos separate from a class Instagram account. I'm a firm believer in separating professional and personal accounts with social media. Even though we as teachers know we need to behave personal online with our personal accounts, it is good to "not mix business with pleasure". 
  5. Connect a class Facebook page/group and Twitter account with Instagram. Not all parents use Facebook. Not all parents use Instagram. Not all parents use Twitter. Since this is the case, you cover more bases by exporting to all of them. Sharon Davison is a kindergarten teacher in Vermont that engages her students and families by posting their work through social media. She provides sound advice for utilizing a class Twitter account. 
  6. Take advantage of your Instagram photos and embed them on your class blog or website. Insert a picture of an exciting learning opportunity and expound upon it. This will draw parents to your site/blog, and keep that flow of communication going. 
Keeping parents and the community informed is extremely powerful. Parents want to know what is happening in their child's classroom. Putting it in a format that is easy and convenient to follow makes it even better.