The Benefits Of Creating A Website For Your Classroom
contributed by Nik Donovic
The beginning of the school year often feels like a whirlwind with a seemingly endless ‘to-do’ list.
Between conferences with parents, meet and greets with new students, and workshops with colleagues, itineraries are tight, and there’s rarely room or time to do anything else (and as a teacher you’re already the master of time management).
If creating a classroom website remains at the low end of your priority list, it’s understandable. Maybe you have been thinking about building one, but who has the time? Unfortunately, classroom websites take the backseat far too often. Either the website is too complicated to update on a regular basis and ends up being neglected, or perhaps you’re underwhelmed by the district issued site. Maybe it’s just a little too boring and not an accurate or interesting reflection of you, as a teacher. Before you brush off the idea of creating a website, take a brief moment to consider how it can benefit you, your students, and your class as a whole.
Getting to Know You
One of the great things about creating your own website is that you can reveal a little bit of your personality and what student doesn’t want to get to know his or her teacher a bit more? Obviously, you don’t need to publish all of your personal information (nor should you), but students like to make connections with their teachers and see what they have in common. This is also an excellent way to share your contact information with parents and students know the best way to communicate with you, rather than relying on the school office.
You may also want to consider posting pictures of your dog, your campsite from summer break, or even a list of your favorite things from sports teams to children’s authors. Your ‘About Me’ section can settle the nerves of a shy student before a brand new school year or satisfy a curious parent.
Announcements, Events, & Calendars
If you’ve ever thought about the amount of paper you pass out to students on a weekly basis, it may seem like a tree’s worth. Half the time, there’s a good chance those forms that need a parent signature or a calendar marking important classroom events probably goes missing or gets crumpled up at the bottom of a backpack, not seen until the information is no longer relevant.
While it may be necessary to produce a hard copy of a permission slip or a letter to parents, sharing the same information on your website can add a little extra insurance and eliminate the favorite response from parents, “I never received that information!” Every educator will agree that communication is key, and this is an excellent way to communicate.
Assignments & Syllabus
The older your student is, the more difficult it can be to get him or her caught up if he or she is absent for a few days. Rather than tracking down a friend or family member to deliver missed assignments to your absent student, save yourself the time and hassle by posting class notes and assignments on your website. Not only will this keep an absentee connected, but all of your students can have access to assignments and the syllabus, so there’s never any question or debate about what is due and when.
Consider linking your PowerPoint presentation, video clips, or even your classroom expectations. By taking the time to post relevant information, you may actually be saving yourself some time in the classroom. Rather than having to get everyone caught up and on the same page, you can focus on the quality and content of your lesson plan. Wouldn’t you prefer to deliver a lecture about an important date in history rather than a lecture on the importance of handing in an assignment on time?
Planning Out Your Website
Planning your website can be exciting and a little overwhelming, considering all of the information you may want to post. The best time to create your website is during summer break when you’re not in the middle of a busy academic year. Always think carefully about the information you post and don’t violate school or district policy or use copyrighted images without permission. Additionally, always make it easy for even the least tech-savvy of individuals to navigate your site. Avoid clutter and irrelevant information.
Building Your Own Site
One of the benefits of building your own website is that you have total control over the site rather than hoping that you and the web designer share the same ‘vision.’ Not only do you have the opportunity to take your time and customize your site, without worrying about paying by the hour, but you can gain a better understanding of the ins and outs of the site. You don’t need to know about coding or other technical jargon, but when you create your own site, you will figure out how to make edits and updates (even if it is by trial and error, at first).
Whether you choose a template from WordPress or prefer to build a site from scratch, as you search for the best website builder for your classroom needs, take the time to discover what’s possible with a little planning and research.