How Teachers Use Social Media to Enhance Instruction

Social media has become a tool for teachers to share best practices.

Just as social media has infiltrated virtually every aspect of our waking lives, so too have platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram become regular parts of classroom instruction. From teacher Instagram accounts to school-wide Twitter announcements, educators and administrators increasingly use social media to reach their school’s “audience” of students and families.

While social media, of course, has its proverbial “dark side” (for example, cyberbullying remains a key concern of school leaders), teachers also frequently use social media in ways that ultimately enhance instruction. By uploading a compelling piece of instructional content to her social media account, for example, a teacher can share best practices that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Confined to a classroom for much of the school day, teaching can prove an incredibly isolating profession, particularly for educators responsible for younger children. Social media helps bridge the divide between classrooms, grade levels, schools, and even districts, allowing teachers to collaborate with one another through content uploads, post-sharing, and commenting.

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With the right protocols in place, teachers can use the connections they build with other educators online to enhance daily classroom instruction and ultimately improve student achievement.

Particularly for instruction in younger grades, teachers use social media to share engaging instructional content ideas.

There’s an old adage among kindergarten teachers that “teaching” the students in their care is actually more akin to putting on a 6-to-8-hour show: the day might begin with a quick “do now” or journaling exercise before transitioning to a guided reading session, a social-emotional learning module, or even a quick trip down the hallway to a physical education, art, or music lesson. Regardless of the precise flow, teachers in younger grades are constantly having to “change it up” for their group of inquisitive students, introducing new content at a dizzying pace to keep learners engaged.

At a certain point, however, even the most experienced teacher runs out of ideas. Sure, they have dozens of close reading exercises up their sleeves, tens of “get to know you” games at their disposal, and a library of engaging texts to hand to their students, but with 180 days in a single school year, collaboration with other educators is often necessary to source novel opportunities for student engagement.

By logging on to Instagram, a teacher can quickly obtain these ideas, saving them time and energy that comes with pre-social media research and word-of-mouth sourcing. By scrolling through their personal feed on the social media platform’s site, teachers can rapidly acquire new instructional content they can then quickly turnkey for their own classroom. Moreover, because the posts are often written by teachers, they’re worded in a way that teachers can understand: no unnecessary corporate jargon or otherwise confusing instructions, teachers can almost always rely on other teachers to tell them how to introduce a particular lesson effectively.

When teachers don’t know where to start with classroom set-up, many turn to Instagram for inspiration.

One of the most common topics for which teachers turn to social media for inspiration is classroom design and set-up. Rows and rows of student desks, grey walls, and bright overhead lights can make for a drab classroom that’s not conducive to student engagement. Similarly, a classroom library that lacks brightly colored bins or bulletin boards that lack examples of student work can create an uninviting atmosphere.

As with instructional content sourcing, teachers can use Instagram to transform their classrooms into colorful, engaging spaces for student learning. Color-coded classroom supply bins, organized bookshelves, and bulletin boards filled with brightly colored bubble letters are certain to attract students’ eyes and also make them feel more “at home” in their classroom space.

Perhaps most importantly, many of the ideas teachers share with one another can be executed with little financial investment. Teachers are often given little or sometimes no financial support from their schools for classroom beautification. With these constraints in mind, teachers who post their classroom set-up ideas on social media often do so with frugality at the forefront. Need to create individual key chains for each of your student’s backpacks? There’s a deal happening at Dollar General. Want an inexpensive way to organize your classroom’s art supplies? Check out the dollar section at your local Target.

Sharing tips and tricks like these with their fellow educators allows teachers to stretch each dollar provided by their school to the maximum extent possible. With a few colorful additions to their classroom, teachers can quickly transform their room from one where students are uninspired to one where learning and engagement become the norm.

Sites like Teachers Pay Teachers allow educators to share and even sell the instructional content they’ve created.

Given how often teachers share content with one another on social media, it’s unsurprising that sites like Teachers Pay Teachers have launched with educators’ content-sharing at the forefront. Teachers Pay Teachers (or TPT, as many educators call it) allows educators to upload, share, and even sell the content they’ve created specifically for their class of students.

From culturally responsive classroom library lists to distance learning resources, reading comprehension strategies, and persuasive writing graphic organizers, TPT offers educators a nearly infinite library of content they can draw upon to support classroom instruction. While many of the site’s resources are available free of charge, others cost a small fee, helping cover the cost of developing the materials for the teacher uploading content to the site. Because some schools are unable to provide financial resources to their teachers, the small amount teachers on TPT charge can make a huge difference for educators’ bottom line and allow them to create additional content in the future.

With appropriate policies in place, teachers can also use social media to keep their students’ families in the loop.

Beyond communicating with their fellow educators, teachers can also use social media to keep their families informed about classroom projects, upcoming field trips, and students’ homework. For many parents, sending an email or making a phone call is far more difficult than scrolling through a Twitter or Instagram feed, which often contains short, pithy descriptions of their student’s classroom activities or an image that immediately conveys the day’s announcements.

Teachers can also normalize their social media communication efforts by regularly uploading content, signaling to families that they should frequently check their student’s classroom account to stay up to date on the latest activities in their child’s classroom. If there’s an assignment due in the near future, a parent-teacher conference sign-up deadline looming, or a school-wide event that parents need to attend, teachers can update their social media accounts and quickly disseminate time-sensitive information to their classroom’s families. By democratizing classroom communication, teachers can ultimately use social media to build stronger relationships with students’ families and, in turn, positively impact academic achievement.

Video platforms also allow teachers to share instructor-facing content on curriculum design and other professional development topics.

Beyond speaking to their students or their students’ families, teachers have also used video platforms like Vimeo and YouTube to share instructor-facing content with their fellow educators. Teachers can upload, for example, videos explaining how to implement a particularly complex curriculum or a clip showing how they made a particular classroom craft for younger students.

As with other types of posts, video content allows teachers to engage with one another outside the confines of their class, school, or even district, scaling best practices in a way they couldn’t previously. Administrators can also use particularly compelling video content in their professional development sessions with teachers. If a video presents a topic in an especially effective manner, why reinvent the wheel? Administrators can save the time needed to create content in-house and instead deploy modules developed by other educators.

Administrators use platforms like Twitter to spread information about school events and other important dates.

Finally, administrators can use platforms like Twitter to communicate information to an entire student body with the click of a button. For families that don’t check their emails regularly, using social media to communicate important deadlines, school functions, and even school closure information can allow schools to reach families who were previously isolated. Consistent communication from school leaders can also help develop relationships of trust between home and school that lay the groundwork for students’ academic success.

At CTS, we help teachers and schools make the most of their technology so they can accomplish their unique missions.

At CTS, we believe in using the power of technology to help schools accomplish their unique missions. Collaborating with more than 60 school partners across the United States, our team has both the track record and technical know-how to help your teachers and school leaders make effective use of their technology resources. From educational data analysis to managed IT support and complex IT project management, our team has a full suite of services to help take your school’s technology programming to the next level. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help your school accomplish its unique mission.