screen of a phone with instagram on the screen

Social Media as PD for Pre- and In-Service Teachers

Author: Samantha Goldman;

Last year, CIDDL hosted a webinar with Stefanie McKoy and Krystle Merry, both doctoral students at the University of Arkansas focusing on netnography, using social media to explore cultural experiences, such as a teacher's career. During the webinar, (which you should check out if you haven’t), McKoy and Merry discussed ways in which teacher preparation faculty can leverage Instagram, a resource many pre-service teachers already use for bite-sized PD, to teach critical lesson planning skills. Often these Instagram videos are so short they leave out key details, don’t discuss the “trial-and-error” that went into the final product, and leave out the effectiveness in a real classroom (every experienced teacher knows you don’t hand out full bottles of glitter). Just as we teach students about the quality of sources for articles, so do we need to teach them about the quality of the people they follow on Instagram. They need to consider the number of views on videos, the types of comments, how long the teacher has been teaching and where, and any inherent biases in the post or comments.

Why Teachergram is Effective PD

In a recent article in the Journal of Special Education Technology, Dr. Jennifer Ryan Newton and Dr. Mira Cole Williams discussed using Instagram as a tool for special education professional development. The Instagram teacher community has lovingly coined the platform “teachergram” because teachers are using it as a resource for professional development (PD). Newton and Williams discuss how several of the characteristics that make PD high quality and sustainable can be found within the teachergram platform. They cite that using teachergram provides educators a space for collaboration, feedback, and reflection, and continued learning. 

Leveraging Personalized Learning within Social Media

Beyond being a resource for on-the-go PD, Instagram provides an opportunity to embed voice and choice within our pre-service teacher preparation programs. In the next series of research and practice briefs, we will be exploring personalized learning and self-directed learning, and their impact on engagement for both the k-12 student and pre-service/ in-service teacher. Consider using these bite-sized PD, teaching pre-service teachers how to evaluate the lessons and practices provided using the suggestions provided in Instagram as a Special Educator Professional Development Tool: A Guide to Teachergram and the Netnography webinar and subsequent blogs to have pre-service teachers explore the topics within your curriculum within areas they are interested in. Ideas from the webinar include having them try out the activities and figure out if steps are missing and relating them back to evidence-based practices.

Taking it to Our Community

Have you leveraged social media as a PD tool for either yourself or your classroom? What are some ways you might consider using social media as you plan coursework for the fall? What questions and concerns do you have about integrating social media into your content? Head over to our community and join the conversation.