I am not going to be sharing any photos from my classroom on Instagram this year. In the past, I have occasionally shared a #feetupfriday post, or maybe a shot of my anchor charts or my messy desk, but this year I'm doing things differently. Over the last year or so, I have felt less and less comfortable posting images of my classroom on the internet and slowly I have backed off from sharing classroom photos. There are a few reasons why I made this decision.
FERPA (The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) is a law the relates to students' privacy and the protection of their personal information. The more I've learned about FERPA, the more I have begun to recognize my responsibility to protect the privacy of my students. I have always been careful about this, but lately I have been even more careful. I never want my social media usage to infringe on my students's privacy. My friend Jillian from Teaching with Jillian Starr has created a blog post and a podcast episode that are great resources about FERPA and social media use that I would recommend to anyone looking to reflect on their own practices.
Some decisions I have made include:
Since my classroom is full of students, student names, and their handwriting, I have found myself stepping back from sharing classroom photos. No longer sharing photos from my classroom will make it even easier to be certain that I am abiding by the specifications of FERPA.
I have always been an advocate for the importance of boundaries. In this instance, I'm talking about the boundaries I create between my teaching and my social media platform. I never want to give the impression that I use my classroom as a means to promote my business or my Instagram account.
Here are a few boundaries I have selected for this purpose:
3. Teaching Matters
I've noticed the increasing competitive atmosphere between teachers on the internet, especially on Instagram. I don't want to contribute to this environment. Instagram is full of perfectly curated and edited photos of well-styled and well-funded classrooms full of matching baskets, perfect posters, and trendy decor. But, the average classroom doesn't really look like that.
My value as a teacher isn't connected to what my classroom looks like. Neither is yours. There are aspects of teaching that are much more important than how your classroom is decorated.
My teaching can stand alone. Yours can, too. We don't need perfect pictures or a perfect classroom to prove that our voices are valuable and our opinions are valid.
Here's the deal: you don't have to be like everyone else on the internet. You don't have to share things just because everyone else is sharing them. Be intentional, ethical, and equitable in your posting.