Pinning Pinterest Down for Teachers

A rich resource for educators in and out of the classroom

Pinterest’s goal is to be the ultimate anti-social media platform, said CEO and co-founder of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann, in an interview with CNN Business last week. The goal isn’t to keep customers online, he says, but rather to inspire and ultimately get people offline to try something new (Wattles, 2019). Pinterest has certainly inspired thousands of teachers to get more creative in the classroom.

What does Pinterest offer teachers?

Teachers turn to it as an invaluable professional tool— a forum for classroom and teacher-to-teacher collaborations as well as a source for classroom décor, teaching tips and creative lesson plans. Best of all, many of these resources are organized by grade level and subject, making it easy for time-strapped teachers to hone in on the exact resources they need, for example grade three science. (Cummings, 2015)

What is Pinterest?

One of the fasted growing social applications in history, Pinterest had reached 250 million monthly active users as of October 2018 (Wikipedia). It’s an image-based social bookmarking tool. Users can create “pinboards” around topics where they can “pin” (bookmark) web images and videos, creating a catalogue of ideas (Algonquin College).

Pinterest and educators by the numbers

By the end of 2014, there were 1.3 million education pins per day (Cummings, 2015). An online poll of educators, conducted that same year by the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, found 38 per cent of those surveyed reported using Pinterest to find resources—second only to Twitter (Cummings 2015). It’s also a testament to the importance of teachers that Pinterest created a Teachers on Pinterest hub.

On pins and needles to get started?

The Guide to Pinterest for Educators, from the University of Southern California, is a great starting point. This handy guide covers curating content, organizing your pins, collaborating with other educators, and how to connect students to Pinterest.

The Guide to Pinterest for Educators by USC Rossier’s Masters of arts in teaching program.

Student safety on Pinterest

The guide includes 8 Practical Tips for Internet Safety on Pinterest. How to set up profiles and boards to keep students safe and address parent and administrator worries is covered and bears repeating (Levy, 2016):

  • Make profiles as private as possible:
    • Use avatars—fake names and icon images will obscure student identities
    • Set search privacy to “yes”—this hides the profile from Google so it won’t be indexed.
    • Turn off personalization so the user’s online movements can’t be followed.
    • Limit notifications so students can only be contacted by people they are following.
    • Unlink social networks to limit access to student data.
  • Use secret boards—you can invite students to the board but it won’t be open to the public.
  • Set boundaries—one of these should be a time limit for use.
  • Go over pinning guidelines
  • Talk about what is good communication—bullying and how to comment can be covered here.
  • Discuss alternatives to negative behaviour
  • Have students sign an Internet Safety Pledge
  • Get parents involved—send them a primer on Pinterest and a copy of the guidelines for acceptable behaviour and staying safe.

How educators can use Pinterest

Almost anything can be pinned from blog posts to books and recipes to reading recommendations. Since Pinterest is essentially a visual catalogue, it’s also a boon to visual students. The following infographic from Online summarizes the many ways teachers can use Pinterest.

In her blog, Pinterest for Teachers – 32 Practical Ways to Use Pinterest as an Educator, Jacqueline Thomas breaks down the educational uses of Pinterest for four target groups: students, the teacher themselves, parents and other teachers (2017):

For the Student

  • Set up a collaboration board for students and/or parents
  • Brainstorm for projects using a collaborative board
  • Pin interesting facts about historical figures
  • Have each student build a “get to know-you” board at the beginning of the year and complete one yourself
  • Summer reading recommendations
  • Set up a classroom spotlight to share accomplishments

For the Teacher

  • Create/find lesson plans
  • Classroom décor
  • Organization tips
  • Classroom management
  • Book recommendations
  • Find educational blogs
  • Find experiments
  • Get printables
  • Get test prep ideas

For Parents

  • Create a student portfolio
  • Publish a digital magazine or newspaper
  • Share a link to your pass-protected class blog

For Other Teachers and Educators

  • Share resources
  • Link to your Teachers Pay Teachers site. While many of the teacher resources on this platform are free, some teachers advertise on Pinterest and sell their lesson plans to one another for a small fee.
  • Follow boards from fellow teachers. Use PinGroupie. Just enter a keyword like “educators” or “8th grade French”) into the description and click “filter”. If you’re really jazzed by a board, ask the board creator if you can join and help curate for it.

In her blog, 16 Best Teacher Pinterest Pages to Obsess Over, Meghan Mathis recommends the best teacher Pinterest pages to follow (2017).

In Teaching strategies: 5 exciting ways to use Pinterest, teacher Jenny Starkman waxes eloquent about how Pinterest saves her time. It’s where she turns when she needs ideas on communications home, individualized education programs (IEPs), templates and progress monitoring. She’s also uses it to get recommendations on apps, ideas for special events and clubs and finds it a great resource for teacher blogs. (Starkman, n.d.).

There are risks, so why post and pin in education?

The Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario (ETFO) advises its members not to friend students on social media and to be cautious even in their personal use, “ETFO warns its members that anything they post can be: forwarded, taken out of context, copied, manipulated and impossible to remove from cyberspace.” Yet is also states, “ETFO continues to support the responsible use of social media as an excellent teaching tool, provided it adheres to professional standards.” (Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, 2011).

The Ontario College of Teachers, which certifies and oversees teachers in Canada’s largest province, has many words of caution for teachers in its advisory to teachers on the use of electronic communications and social media. But it also acknowledges, “Electronic communication and social media tools provide exciting opportunities to learn, teach and communicate with students, parents and your colleagues. They serve a range of purposes from helping students and parents access assignments and resources to connecting with communities all over the world (Council of the Ontario College of Teachers, 2017).

Given the risks to privacy and the potential for inappropriate sharing or online bullying, why should we allow Pinterest and other social media into the classroom?

Perhaps Thomas Ryan’s examination of social media use in the classroom makes the best case. He concludes that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks and that, “As educators, part of our responsibility is to prepare students for life. For this reason, considering the increasing prominence of social media in today’s society, it should also be our responsibility to help students learn how to use social media in an appropriate manner. To do this we need to connect as educators and find ways and means to authentically use this technology within the many guidelines and policies surfacing in educational organizations.” (Ryan, 2014)

What do you think?

Until I recently took the Introduction to Social Media course at Algonquin College, I hadn’t thought about using social media as an education tool. What were some of the best ways teachers used social media to enrich your (or your child’s) learning experiences? If they used Pinterest, what did you think of it?

Tweet: Pinning Pinterest Down for Teachers: A rich resource for educators in and out of the classroom

Facebook Post: (To be posted as a link post to blog)
More and more of your teacher colleagues are using Pinterest. Why?
[Photo of lead blog image-a phone with Pinterest app in the centre]
Pinning Pinterest Down for Teachers
A rich resource for educators in and out of the classroom


Algonquin College. (n.d.). Lesson 3: Social media’s impact on communication practices in Introduction to Social Media [webpage]. Retrieved February 19, 2019, from

Council of the Ontario College of Teachers. (2017, September 27). Professional advisory: Maintaining professionalism – use of electronic communication and social media. Retrieved from

Cummings, M. (2015, April 2). There’s a big hole in how teachers build skills, and Pinterest Is helping fill it (Webpage]. Slate. Retrieved from

Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario. (2011, September). Electronic communication and social media – Advice to members. Retrieved on February 19, 2019, from

Levy, Anne. (2016, February 4). 8 practical tips for Internet safety on Pinterest [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Mathis, Meghan. (2017, June 2). 16 best teacher Pinterest pages to obsess over[Webpage]. Retrieved from

Ryan, Thomas. (2014, June). Social media use in the classroom: Pedagogy & practice [Conference Paper]. Retrieved on February 19, 2019, from

Starkman, Jenny. (n.d.). Teaching strategies: 5 exciting ways to use Pinterest [Webpage]. Retrieved on February 19, 2019, from

Thomas, Jacqueline. (2017, January 23). Pinterest for teachers – 32 practical ways to use Pinterest as an educator [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

USCRossierOnline. (n.d.). The Guide to Pinterest for Educators.  Retrieved on February 19, 2019, from

Wattles, Jackie. (2019, February 12). Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann on creating the anti-social media platform. CNN Business online. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, February 19). Pinterest [Webpage]. Retrieved on February 19, 2019, from

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