Skip to main content

Our School, Our Story

Stories. We all have them. We all like to hear them. Some of us like to read them. And in today's society, we ALL love to see them. Capturing the pulse of a high school is no easy feat. Sharing it with the world in an engaging way....even harder. While the purpose of this blog is to share the awesome things happening at Neuquqa Valley High School, I recently started to consider how we could reach a bigger audience: the students. Whether they admit it or not, students are curious about what is happening around the building. They are also excited to share what they are doing, learning, and feeling with others. How do they typically do this? Yes, you're media. Specifically, Snapchat and Instagram. They spend half of their day snapping pictures and videos of themselves while spending the other half looking at what others are sharing. In our collaborative, digital world, we all love to see others' stories, and social media makes this easy and fun.

In February, I attended the ICE conference and signed up to do an ICE Instagram takeover. Throughout my day at the conference, I shared pictures and videos of my experience using Instagram's 'Story' feature: "A feature that lets users post photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours" (Read).  I am a big fan of Instagram, so I was excited to try something new that was a bit out of my comfort zone. Many people use Instagram to promote their businesses and share their passions with others, so in preparation for my big takeover, I started to pay more attention to how people developed their stories on Instagram and was ready to have some fun with it on my takeover day. Click here to check out a recap of my story. I really enjoyed this process, as it challenged my creativity and really forced me to critically think about how I wanted to share my story. At the end of the day, I started to brainstorm ideas for how we could use Instagram stories at our school to share stories from our staff and students' days. While the school uses Twitter (@neuquavalley) to share news and celebrations, we didn't have a social media platform that currently shared an inside look at the stories throughout the school day. And voilá! A new challenge, idea, and risk was born! #boomshakalaka

Last week, I started sharing @NeuquaValley's stories on Instagram, and let me tell you, it has been the most fun I've had this semester. Before my initial post, I did a lot of research and reached out to members of my PLN to see how they use Instagram to promote their schools. Many teachers use it in order to share photos and videos of their classroom adventures. Other schools use it like how we use Twitter: to share news and celebrate school accolades. Since I am in classrooms around the building throughout the day, I thought it would be awesome to share the story of a typical school day. I also thought it would be fun to share what students had to say about the school, classes, and other things that interest them....because ultimately, this is their school, their story. 

And so it began. I started slowly on that first Monday and tried to incorporate a variety of engaging touches on our story:  Pictures, videos, polls, GIFS, music...there are so many options to really jazz it up. I knew that the first step was to engage the small number of followers already following our page. Step 2 was to increase the followers and get students talking about it. Who could help with this? My students, of course. They are awesome. I shared with them what we were trying to do with Instagram, and many of them started to follow the page and shared it with others via their social media site. Just like that...we were up and running with one major goal: Share our story. 

Step 3 was more difficult. Now, I had to figure out how to vary the posts and change it up day after day in order to engage more viewers. In addition to students and staff, I also envisioned parents following the page, as I am sure they are always curious about what's happening during the school day. The answer was simple: the students. I need to get the students excited about it and eager to share our story. So I spent my second-day interviewing students and called it "Teaching Tuesday" - share something fun or interesting you are doing in class. I walked around the halls and just asked students to share. Some did. Some didn't. And that was ok. Click here to check out a few responses from last week's Teaching Tuesday and #Whatsup Wednesday. And just like that....students were starting to engage. Our followers increased by 150 people in just 48 hours, and by the end of the week, students were starting to seek me out to be on our school's Instagram page. Isn't that awesome??

As I finish my second week of posting, I am continuing our daily stories and really trying to be creative with how I set them up and add fun features. I love experimenting with options to add music and animated GIFs. It provides a little personality to our stories, with the hopes of engaging different members of the audience. I also continue to include questions for the students to answer and polls to complete. This provides another layer of engagement and student voice. Each week, I've asked what they want to see. While I don't get a ton of responses, I try very hard to share something that someone requested the next day. If this is truly about the students' and our school's story, it is essential to share what they want to see. 

Another selling point this week...STICKERS. Yes, we now have our own @NeuquaValley Instagram stickers, and as I 've shared in past posts about stickers, the students love, love, love them. After seeing their excitement about the stickers, I decided it would be fun to do a #finderskeepers day on Thursday and took pictures and videos of myself placing stickers around the building for students to find. From there, I encouraged students via our Instagram story to "Take one. Take a pic. And tag @NeuquaValley in your photo." Check it out: 
Here are a few takeaways after two weeks on the Gram:
  1. Ask the students what they want to see
  2. Get the students involved in the posts - Interview them, take pictures of their learning, ask if they are comfortable being on the school's Instagram page, offer opportunities for them to ask or answer questions, pose questions about the school for them to vote on, and whatever else you can think of keep them engaged. 
  3. Utilize the awesome enhancements available in Instagram Stories: Text, location, hashtags, GIFs, Music, Polls, Questions, Countdowns, and so much more. 
  4. Don't be afraid to publicize the Instagram page. Don't be afraid to approach students to get them involved. Don't be afraid of a new challenge. 
  5. Have fun with it! Viewers will feed off your excitement. 
Bonus: As always, stickers make everything better. 

And just like that, we now have over 500 followers, and students, staff, and parents seem to be excited about our presence on Instagram. I am super passionate about this process and eager to keep brainstorming ideas of how to use this effectively to share our story. For example, I would love to get more teachers involved in an Instagram-Takeover style rotation. I would love to do more student and teacher interviews. I would love to collect more information from students to give them more opportunities for voice. The possibilities are endless. And just like any learning experience, we will take risks, be creative, and put our focus on the most important part of this project: our students. Want to see more? Click here to follow our adventures on Instagram. #whatsup

Do you have any awesome ideas for using Instagram to share our school's story? Please comment below and help us make this even more powerful!