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One big, happy Insta-fam!

Sharing photos on social media helps New York City teachers connect and collaborate
New York Teacher

Travelers use Instagram to post pictures of scenery. Foodies use Instagram to post pictures of meals. And increasingly, teachers are using Instagram to post pictures of the work that goes on inside their classrooms.

“I could look at teacher Instagram accounts all day,” says Theresa Gilbert, a 3rd-grade teacher at PS 48 in Washington Heights. “You get to see what other teachers around the country and even the world are doing, and it’s easy for me to see a picture and the ways I can modify the idea for my own kids.”

#ConnectAndCollaborate

“The whole point of Instagram is to engage and collaborate with people and grow with them professionally,” says Ashley Tyree, a K–2 special education teacher at PS 171 in East Harlem.

Shira Moskowitz, a 2nd-grade teacher at PS 343 in Sunnyside, Queens, does this by using Instagram Stories — snapshots or short videos that expire after 24 hours — to seek feedback on situations that have happened in her classroom that day.

“I’ll ask, ‘Has this happened to you? What have you done?’ And people have suggestions, resources, support, encouragement,” she says.

Instagram can help teachers find other teachers with similar interests. Moskowitz seeks out teachers who share an interest in technology. Kevin Collins, a kindergarten teacher at PS 527 on the Upper East Side, strives to connect with other men in early education “because we are few and far between.” This fall, Kimberly Falco’s 5th-grade class at PS 213 in Oakland Gardens, Queens, participated in a “global read-aloud” project and postcard exchange that she discovered through her Instagram community.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

My first ever mini room transformation!!! Today my students met Dr. Minerva Falconator. She is a wildlife doctor & came to us to teach us how to orient ourselves to complex nonfiction texts. She brought us our own safari hats, flashlights, and mini magnifying glasses to help us search our texts for information with our partners. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t extravagant but one of my students whispered under his breath “this is amazing” it just goes to show that getting outside of your & your students comfort zones makes all the difference. I can’t wait to shake it up in my classroom again! #BeTheWildCard #ClassroomTransformation • • • • #ITeachFifth #ITeachToo #TeacherShare #ITeach345 #Teach #TeachersSupportTeachers #LoveWhatYouDo #TeacherLife #igconnect4edu #NycDOE #ITeachNYC #ClassroomCommunity #TeachersOfInstagram #TeachersFollowTeachers #ITeachElementary #LifeLongLearner #TeacherTalk #Education #SchoolCulture #PublicSchool #Elemschool #TeachersOfIG #ITeachELA #FifthGradeELA #InstagramTeachers #Teachers #TeacherTribe

A post shared by Kimberly Falco (@missfalco_) on

@missfalco_ “What I want people to see is someone who really cares about what they do and tries to bring positivity to students.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

@americanlibertyballet performed “In a Nutshell” at our school today!

A post shared by Kevin Scott Collins (@kevinkindergarten) on

@kevinkindergarten “I really want people to see my kids experiencing different cultural events and doing an array of different things, from play to rigorous work.”

#CollectResources

“I got into Instagram because I was mesmerized by teacher Instagrammers and how open and willing they were to share resources and ideas,” says Falco.

Photos she found on Instagram inspired Falco to stage a “room transformation” during a nonfiction reading unit: Students donned safari hats and used magnifying glasses to search for text clues.

Collins adopted a writing curriculum that he saw in use on Instagram. When he posted photos of his kindergarten students using the materials in his classroom, the creators donated even more resources to him.

Instagram can also be a haven for teachers seeking resources in a niche subject area. Amy Crehore, a 4th-grade Spanish teacher at the Samara Community School in the Bronx, follows dual language teachers on Instagram to see how other teachers are connecting English and Spanish in their lessons.

To find what you’re looking for, try using hashtags to search for what you’re interested in. “When you find a teacher you really love, see who they tag or who they’re following, where they’re getting their ideas from,” says Crehore.

@lovesetsslearning “I post about ways to engage my students and about positivity and building each other up as educators.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Inside: “when I count my blessings I count you twice!” With a circle map of family. ❤️❤️❤️

A post shared by MissGilbert (@missgilbertnyc) on

@missgilbertnyc "If we're proud of something we did that day my kids want me to post it on Instagram. So I will post anything I think other teachers can use and modify."

#ShareYourIdeas

If you’ve taken a picture of an innovative classroom project, a creative anchor chart or groundbreaking student work, you should feel proud to post it on Instagram.

“I create a lot of my own materials, and I’ve been able to help other teachers who have messaged me,” says Tyree.

“I’ve been recognized by people in person — ‘You’re @kevinkindergarten!’ — and it’s empowering. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right,” says Collins.

But if you’ve taken a picture of your messy desk or a project that failed spectacularly, you should feel proud to post that on Instagram, too.

“When I first started on Instagram, I was following every teacher who had a beautiful classroom, and that overwhelmed me,” says Crehore. “You want to make sure you’re seeing teachers who are real.”

“I look for innovative teachers who are allowing children to express themselves and showcasing their work,” says Collins.

After all, Instagram is infamous for being a “highlight reel,” notes Falco — a place where people showcase their “best self.”

“But I try to talk about my struggles, my difficult days,” she says. “I got into this job because I wanted to help children, and Instagram allows me to see so many educators across the country working so hard every day to do the same thing. I want to learn from them and hopefully they can learn from me.”

@srta_crehore “When you look at my Instagram you’ll see things that went well for me, ideas that someone else can use in the future. And anchor charts, because I love anchor charts.”

#GettingStarted

Open a “teacher account” that’s separate from your personal Instagram account. Even if you don’t plan to post your own photos very often, having an account where you only follow teachers will help you curate your feed.

Create a user name and profile that reflect something about you and what your interests are as an educator. “My focus is on special education because that’s what I teach and where my heart is,” says PS 171 teacher Ashley Tyree, who uses the name @lovesetsslearning on Instagram.

Get consent from parents before posting photos of your students.

Use relevant hashtags when you post so other teachers can find your content.

Be honest (#nofilter!). “When everything’s perfect in a classroom, I unfollow that account because that’s not the world I’m in,” says Shira Moskowitz, a teacher at PS 343 in Queens.

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