What messages do teacher websites convey to parents?
Is the website up to date?
Consider this scenario: It's the beginning of the school year. Parents have just learned the name of their child's teacher. It's YOU! What's their first course of action? They Google you.
What will they find? What does your website say about you as an educator? What is it like to be a learner in your classroom?
With a little attention each week, you can design a website parents rely on for school communication and visit again and again.
A few tips:
Include a Professional Teacher Profile
This is a must. Your audience wants to be informed about the person with whom their child spends the entire day! Be professional, friendly, and concise. If you choose to share any personal information regarding family or pets, keep it brief. Remember, your audience is more concerned with your education and experience than your personal life.
If you choose to include a "Welcome to my class" statement, consider revising it as the school year continues. Reading "Welcome to the new school year" in March, gives the audience the impression that your site is not up to date. Parents will visit your site as soon as they learn their child has been assigned to your classroom. How will a summer visit to your site benefit parents?
Update the Academic Focus and Student Showcase
A student showcase is a great opportunity to provide a glimpse of life in the classroom. Including photos of student work can be an easy way to bring your curriculum and student experience to life.
Give parents a window into your classroom. Students constantly return home and face the questions, "What did you learn today?" "How was school?" "How did you do on your test?" with less than accurate information. Parents are greeted with answers like "Not much." "OK, I guess." "I don't know."
Each week, update the academic focus of your classroom on your website. Share with parents and students the kinds of learning activities with which students will be involved.
Help parents support the learning process by providing them with an overview of concepts their children are focused on at this time. Keep the edu-speak and standards jargon to a minimum. Be informative, but not too lengthy. You need to update this regularly. If you make this into a grueling chore, it won't get updated, and your website will be rapidly uninformative to your audience.
Consider a Classroom Calendar
Include any special events which are date sensitive:
Unless your webpage is password protected, be cautious about posting every detail of the field trip on a public site. Intentionally leave out information that advertise the specific destination and time you'll be taking your students off campus. Refer parents to the paper handout sent regarding field trip details
Include convenient Documents and Downloads
If All classrooms have:
Parent and Student Resources
Involved parents want their children to be successful in school. They visit teacher websites and seek out resources to support learning. You are in the perfect position to make recommendations. Publishing those recommendations on your teacher webpage is a good practice.
Recommendations could take on many forms:
How will you keep it going? A website is a living document. It needs regular updates with relevant information or it will die. Schedule time each week to update your website. Twenty minutes each week is all it takes. You've already written your lesson plans, so drink a cup of coffee.... add a few bullet points.
Bonus Feature.....If you are a social media user, consider embedding a widget to your website from your class Twitter or Instagram feeds. By including these social elements, your webpage will be up to date each time you post.