What’s the goal of your website? Interacting with and engaging students, and increasing student success. But you also have to please the parents- they want to be in the know and stay updated on their student’s work. I asked my PLN for their suggestions on what makes teacher websites effective, and here are just a few of the responses I received:
Thanks to Lisa, Hadley and Lissa for their responses. Here are just a few ways to increase the success of your teacher website that I feel are very important:1. Homework/Lesson Plans/Relevant Classroom Documents
– This part is essential to having an effective teacher website. This is what will bring students to your site, but then you have to give them something more to keep them there. This alone will cut down on the paper trail. Upload your syllabus. Upload homework assignments or list homework problems for the week. There’s no excuse for students not knowing what the homework is. Put up your lesson plans – give them every possible path to success. Upload your class slides, handouts, notes. Ask them what will help them to succeed and how you can help them. You’re ultimately creating this site for them, not you – so keep that in mind.2. Videos
– Give your site character – upload videos from YouTube, SchoolTube, Vimeo, you name it and give your students another way to learn. This is more interesting and helps you integrate more teaching tools into your class.3. Photos
– Post photos of class activities, even if they aren’t incredibly action-packed, your students will be excited and parents will love to see it. The only problem with this is privacy – do NOT post student names or any personal information. Also, you make want to get the OK from parents before doing so, but it’s a great way to show parents what goes on in class.4. Navigation
– Things have to be easy to find. This is not something that can be ignored at any level, but this aspect applies especially to younger grades. Navigation is essential for any website. People need to be able to easily find what they are looking for. Especially when it comes to an assignment that’s due tomorrow or if you direct your students to your site for a specific purpose. Another example would be to make sure parents are able to find a school supply list very easily.5. Personal Element
– Post blogs or add a feed from your personal blog, post photos from recent personal trips or field trips. Add feeds from your social media or social networking accounts. You can’t really separate your personal life from you professional life in every aspect-so use that to your advantage to increase the communication with your students and their parents. Make yourself accessible, you’ll be glad you did and your students will thank you.6. Organize Your Content
- as your content grows, use slideshows, tabs, accordion links, etc. to organize your content in an aesthetically pleasing way. This will help to make your site more attractive, as well as give your audience different ways to access your content.
There are many more ways to make your teacher website more successful – these are just the beginning and this list doesn’t even touch on design, something we will be discussing at a later date. But this list discusses ways to make your site more engaging and to give your students and parents a reason to keep coming back. One more thing – Keep Things CURRENT
– which really goes without saying, but constantly updating, maintaining, adding and changing things will ensure that your site stays relevant to its audience.