Teacher webpages: Everyone's getting one, so you want to join the fun, right?
Fantastic! But -- just like all best practice -- you have to have a plan when you start building your page.
Webpages are a great tool for communicating with students and their parents, but must be treated with careful thought, not just as a last-minute add-on accessory if you want it to be authentic.
Successful teacher webpages contain important information, are a tool for student and parent engagement and enhance home-to-school connections.
The Top Ten…
- Label your work.
Make sure your webpage has a title. This could be the course name or your grade level depending in what you teach — "Julie Alexander’s 4th grade" compared to Algebra 1. If it's the latter and you want to tuck two pages under a general page created under your name, that's fine as long as it's very clear how to navigate to the course pages and back again.
- Say hello and write your name on your paper.
Tell your visitors a little bit about you, but don’t add your master’s thesis: a little goes a long way. And, make it timeless. Don’t say: Welcome to the new year; chances are you will forget to update the note and the information reads the same in January, which won’t look so fantastic. Also, make sure you have contact information on your page with your first and last name, not just Ms. Alexander or Mr. Smith. If your email is a hyperlink, test it to make sure it works... One simple typo and all email fails. Encourage your students and parents to contact you; it never hurts to ask for feedback (your district's website provider may offer free survey components).
- Spelling counts!
Be sure to use the spell check and reread your work. Misspellings look careless; don't let that be a reflection on your professionalism.
- Save the Date!
Let's be clear, most parents will visit your page to be sure their child is doing the work you asked. Post assignments and due dates in a location that's easy to find.
- All in the grade:
Post your grading policy. Is extra credit allowed? How much off for a late assignment? Are rewrites encouraged or accepted?
- Let's see it!
Pictures are worth a thousand words. Post them! People love to look at themselves and their kids. Be sure to add a cutline describing what the students are doing (just be sure to follow your district's policy on photos, e.g. first name only, etc.)
Same is true for video. Take a few reels with your smartphone and share. Embedding video is as simple as posting pictures. Just add a sentence or two describing the action.
- Got Backup?
Post relevant and helpful links on your website. Share YouTube videos that illustrate the main ideas discussed in class; post links to online quizzes and games for extra practice; provide links to the local library; connect students and parents with online study guides and versions of textbooks (share username and password when necessary).
- Keep it clean!
It’s tempting to use different fonts and a variety of colors to draw attention to new posts and information on your page, but doing so actually has the opposite effect. Consistency is key. Use one font throughout (with bolded and bigger headlines), or a second font for headlines only. Sans serif fonts (fonts without flags on the letters such as Helvetica, Arial and Tahoma as opposed to Times, Bookman and Courier) are the easiest to read on a screen. Read more here.
- Just add water.
Remember to feed your site on a regular basis. Think beyond Field of Dreams. If you build it, they might come, but if you do not provide regular updates, there is no reason for your visitors to come back.
Good luck on your journey! Oh... feel free to share some suggestions that have worked for you.