Like you, I am an educator who looks to improve learning for students as much as possible. There are a zillion ways to improve student learning and designing a website is just one of them.
I really think a website, blog (or whatever you want to call it) offers up one of the best ways to communicate your teaching excellence to colleagues, parents and students. More on that later…
The first question to ask yourself, though, is WHY? Building a website is not so difficult anymore, but it takes some time to build it and a commitment to maintain it.
Why would you want to do that?
Let me help you answer that question with six reasons why an educator should build a website. Oh, I toss in one bonus at the end too.
- Share what is going in in your classroom. Odds are you are doing fantastic things every day and your students are soaking up the new experiences and knowledge you bring to them. A website lets you share that experience with others such as, you guessed it, colleagues, parents and students!
- Safe, consistent portal for your students. Have a research project you want students to complete? Set of music they should learn? List of homework for the day? A website is a single point of entry for students to begin the work you are doing in your classroom. This is a huge help to the distracted student who seems to get lost along the way; they have one place to go back to each day. Parents love seeing what is going on as well.
- Let the sun shine! Personally, I find it really difficult to “describe” something to my students. It is much easier to “show” them what I am asking them to do. A website provides a showplace for examples and exemplars. Let your students “see” what the assignment, project or idea is all about.
- A website is your institutional memory. When I was teaching in the classroom (I am a technology coach now) I lived by my website. After the first year, I was able to go directly to my website to see what units I had coming up. I then simply updated as needed and away I went. Today I use a website as a communication tool for teachers I work with. Check it out.
- Mirror, mirror on the wall, where should I go to reflect it all? Yeah, sort of a silly way to start this one, but really do we reflect enough? Likely not. A website is a fantastic, public forum to reflect on some of your learnings. Not for everybody as it is obviously not at all private, but sometimes it is an incentive to think. Here is a recent reflection I wrote.
- A picture is worth a thousand happy parents. I might be stating the obvious here, but parents are far more interested in seeing photos of their children in action during the day than they are reading their completed assignments. I LOVED, and still do, seeing photos of my kids at school. It allowed me to put myself in their place and “feel” what they were experiencing. A website makes all that possible.
Bonus: A website leaves a digital trail about you. If you are looking to change schools or jobs, apply for some type of reward/recognition, a website is a huge help! For example, I have a son with autism and used to do a podcast about it in addition to some presentations I still do. Google my name with the keyword “autism” attached and I am all over the place. I don’t say this to sound cool. A digital trail is being built about you by data brokers out there anyway; a website helps you control the message. 😉
Shameless promotion: If you are interested in creating a website, I do offer a free introductory course using WordPress. It will get you started and on your way. Check it out.