Many teachers are getting their own teacher websites . . .
Now you may wonder – what’s the purpose? Why would a teacher have their own website? It can take a lot of time to make and maintain one. Where do the students and parents benefit? What are the most important features?
If you are a teacher considering getting your own website, read on. For you may get a better understanding of the needs of students and parents that with a teacher website. Understanding where the students get value will help you realize why you need a teacher website and where to focus your effort.
The web is a recognized communication medium.
Communicate thoughts and ideas . . . Some of the information doesnt change very much (like information about you the teacher). Some of it will change daily – like homework.
What types of things do they need?
INFORMATION NEEDS OF A TEACHER WEBSITE
Parents and students may want to know a little bit about their teacher (or child’s teacher).
A teacher website can help let them get to know the teacher – perhaps by having a “Biography” or “Qualifications”. Having a picture of the teacher is always a benefit so students and parents can recognize the teacher when they meet them in the classroom or in teacher conferences.
This is a must. If the teacher has an email account or phone number or other info to share with the parents or students, having this on a website is a great help in encouraging communication.
This can be a wonderful resource for the students and parents.
The most important resource to post on the classroom section of a teacher website is the daily homework.
This does take a consistent effort to post, but parents and students really appreciate having this always available to them.
Also, it would be nice to post project information, exams, and current events (such as fund raisers and class parties). And for those who are really ambitious, they can post files up to the web such as classroom rules, spelling lists, project handouts, exam prep guides, and permission slips.
Consider a student who is ADHD or for other reasons has difficulty remembering or writing down the homework. A website that has homework posted on it can be an essential ingredient to their success.
Of course there is always the fun stuff. You may want to put in some useful or fun classroom-related links. If you are a math teacher you may want to put in links to math games websites. If you are a biology teacher, you may want to put in links to sites that are about the current study topic like marine animals.
Or you may want to have a picture gallery of the latest event. These are always great to have. Students like to see pictures of themselves in an event.
They also appreciate suggestions of where to find useful information.
DESIGN NEEDS OF A TEACHER WEBSITE
Good design is a must – for your students and parents to make good use of a teacher website. It should not confuse them or make them easily lost.
Many teachers have more than one class. Each class data should be on its own page (or group of pages) – to keep the students and parents from being confused about what homework, exams and projects relate to them. Then they can bookmark their class pages and easily access them later. This way they would only be seeing what they need.
The navigation of your teacher website should be simple and consistent. There should be navigation links at the top and/or left that help the student get to where they want (and to easily back out). If you build a teacher website, I would recommend having a couple of students test it out before showing the whole class. If your test students get lost trying to find the information they need, you will need to make modifications to the navigation of your teacher websites.
LOOK AND FEEL:
The look and feel (backgrounds, color scheme, and position of the navigation) should be consistent and intuitive throughtout the site. This is important to show the students that they are still on your class pages – and haven’t strayed to a different website.
If you are a teacher, having a teacher website can be of great value. Consider it. If you don’t have the time to put into building all the pages yourself, there are services out there that offer websites to teachers at a very reasonable cost. The one I built is at http://www.SchoolAndTeacher.com . The layout is already designed, and you just need to fill in some forms to put your data out there.
One of my favorite features is that students and parents can sign up to get regular emails of their homework. And the cost? The first year is free and after that it is only $19.95 USD per year. (Many have found this to be a huge time saver.)