Social media can be both a blessing and a curse in our personal and professional lives, right?! Well, I can't help you with your personal addiction to your feeds, but your professional habits are another story.
Full disclosure: I'm a "moderation in all things" kind of girl, so you're going to be hearing about limits too.
The first thing you need to do is turn off all of your notifications in any platform you use. The more you use them, the more notifications you'll get. Ugh! Too distracting!
That said, let's jump right in. if you don't use social media for teaching ideas, inspiration and connections, it's time to change that.
Instragam is great for ideas about organization, classroom setup and teaching tips and tricks to make life run a bit smoother. But, Instagram can suck you into scroll mode, eat up your time and make you feel inadequate all at once if you let it.
Instagram has a timer feature. Go into your settings. Find Your Activity. Set the reminder for however long you are designating as "InstaTime". A reminder will pop up when you've reached your time limit.
Don't follow just anyone or any hashtag. Be choosy. If you find you're no longer liking what someone is posting, unfollow.
Go in with a plan. I go into Instagram and spend about 2-5 minutes responding to comments and DMs. Then, I pick a theme for the day and head over to a few of my favorite hashtags within that theme. My theme might be anything from a particular subject or grade level to picture books to classroom organization ideas. I spend about 10-12 minutes checking out what's new, commenting and asking questions. Lastly, I head over to my feed and scroll through to see if there's anything promising or if there are any of my favorite (inspiring) teachers with stories. Keeping this to no more than 5 minutes helps keep me in the appreciation zone without heading into the envy zone.
Facebook is good for connecting with other teachers, getting ideas and collaborating.
First, decide how long you're willing to spend and what you're trying to accomplish. Am I looking for inspiration, needing answers to specific questions or searching for a solution? Then, set a timer on your phone.
With Facebook, I tend to use private groups and pages of inspirational teachers. As a teacher, I find I get more from groups than anything else. Teachers with TpT accounts to promote and other businesses have pages that are sometimes worthwhile. It can really eat up your time, so I typically choose to engage with the groups with the best content.
Start by checking your notifications for responses to any prior questions and comments your need to respond to. For me, I go to my own groups first and respond to comments and questions for a few minutes. Then, I go to other groups I'm a member of and try to be helpful to a few people before I ask any of my questions. Once you're done in a group, take a minute to scan the group discussions for inspiration and add your ideas. That's it. Then, get out..
Pinterest is really not a social platform. It's a visual search engine. Once you know that, it changes everything.
Set a timer because Pinterest in the biggest Rabbit Hole on the internet. Decide what you're searching for and how long you're willing to spend. I'm on Pinterest no more than once a week, and quite often, less than that.
Once you dive in, head to your notifications and respond to any comments. Then, begin your search. If there's time left once you find what you're looking for, use the rest of the time enjoying the rabbit hole and seeing if anything good pops up.
I know many teachers forgo Twitter in favor of Instagram or Facebook. I think they're missing the point. I love Twitter for it's chats. I get more inspiration, deep thinking and opportunity to collaborate and learn from other fabulous educators on Twitter than any other social platform. However, the Twitter feed can be a mine field. I'm fine with a good disagreement as long as everyone is behaving themselves without personal attacks, and there's an actual point to the discussion. I unfollow anyone who spread meanness and personally attacks others. Life's too short...
I have several twitter chats I put on my calendar. While I love quite a few chats, I simply can't attend them all. I commit to regularly attending two chats each week. I have one I almost always show up for and then rotate the others. Also, some chats are only once a month. Sometimes things come up with my family and I miss them all, but otherwise, I show up to two which means I spend 2 hours a week on Twitter in addition to spending 5 minutes each day (Yes, I set a timer.) checking my feed and responding to comments each day.
Here's how to get started. Search for topics you're interested in and see what pops up. Try different ways of typing them with hashtags (#mathchat, etc). You can do a Google search for teacher chats as well. Check out the profiles for educators you admire. See what chats they are in and check out those feeds to see if you're interested. Choose one and put it on your calendar. Give it a go for a couple of sessions. If that one doesn't work out, look of something else.
There's chats for just about anything from elementary math to educational technology to groups like schools or districts. I also I have a few non teaching chats I like too. Inspiration can be found in lots of places. So if you have a hobby, I'll bet there's a chat for that too. Find your passion and feed it.