Taking Over Georgia Department of Education Instagram: A Lesson in Trust

A few months ago I was alerted to an opportunity by one of my favorite collaborative partners, Gretchen Thomas. The Georgia State Department of Education was inviting educators to apply to takeover their Instagram account for one week. I filled out the quick application, and within a few weeks, I was notified that I was selected for the week of January 18-22, 2016.

When I applied, I really didn’t give a lot of thought to what the state DOE was actually doing, but as the week neared, I was really struck by this opportunity. Social media accounts have a lot of power. They allow organizations or individuals to really show the day to day realities of what we all face. Those accounts have influence and help create the brand of an organization. Handing over an account to someone who is for the most part a complete stranger is a big exercise in trust. How many organizations will just hand over their account and allow people to freely post?

This honor, of course, came with rules to follow.

  • Always use the hashtag #gadoeteachertakeover
  • Reply to comments, but indicate who is replying
  • Post photos that are representative of the profession
  • Anything deemed inappropriate could be deleted by the DOE
  • Post 2-5 photos per day
  • Follow any local policies on posting to social media

I took the responsibility very seriously, and I’m sure that every educator who was chosen is doing the same. In fact, if you scroll through the #gadoeteachertakover tag you’ll see the amazing opportunities our students in GA are receiving every day. Since I was allowed 5 photos per day, I thought very carefully about what to post because I wanted to show a variety of opportunities our students have in our library program.  It isn’t just about technology or just about books. I hope that the photos I chose show that it’s about giving students a voice and giving them opportunities to explore a variety of topics, interests, and passions and share those with the world.

Now that I am at the close of the week, I can back up and collectively look at my week in 25 pictures. It’s very easy for me to get lost in the day to day bustling library and focus on all of the things in my head that I’m not able to get to. When I take time to look back at blog posts, tweets, or pictures, I’m reminded of what is actually happening. This was honestly my first time doing this with Instagram, and I loved seeing a visual of images that showcased one week. In  my head I know what’s missing, what problems we faced, what moments of frustrations I had, but the images remind me that there were miraculous things happening all around us.

I would like to thank the Georgia State Department of Education for this opportunity. Thank you for trusting the educators of Georgia to show their work. Thank you for empowering the voices of educators and students to define what education looks like in our state. I hope that other professional organizations will consider how this type of campaign empowers the voices of its members and amplifies the work that is happening on the front lines of the organization.

 

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