A website for any type of teacher (classroom teacher, private teacher, online tutor, trainer, college professor) offers so many benefits and possibilities that it really should now be at the top of our to-do lists. But teachers have a never ending list of things to do, and keeping up with technology usually doesn’t seem the most pressing. But there are so many reasons why teachers need to be online and have a web presence that would in fact facilitate if not eliminate the concerns that appear to us most important. These are 10 reasons that I find most salient and I hope if you’re a teacher they make you seriously consider either building your own website or having someone do it for you.
1. The New Online Marketing Model Demands Teachers Have a Website
For private teachers things like flyers, postings, and newspaper ads were the way to go, and still can be used in an effective marketing campaign. But more and more people are going online first to search for a service they need, especially if it’s a local service. By building an effective website with the right keywords and great content you can be one of the first hits they find on Google. And if people know of you it’s a sure bet that they’ll do a quick search online to find what they can. Your name should bring them to your site. If they find nothing it seems, well a bit disconnected.
For school teachers, proving you’re up with the latest technology shows you take your job seriously and that you’re serious about communicating with parents and students using as many channels as possible. And having the ability to upload documents and add important notices with just a few clicks means less mis-communication and better student/parent management.
2. A Website Creates an Immediate Worldwide Presence
It costs the same for someone down the block or someone 2000 miles away to view your site. You’re instantly worldwide. You can be connected by, and make connections to, people from all countries of the world. Who knows where your skills are most needed? Who knows where someone may be looking for someone with just the right background and mixture you provide? And who knows where in the World is calling for you! People from your community or from the other side of the world can visit your website and find out about you, anytime.
And people you would have never met can now drop you an email or post on your website. What other medium can make such serendipitous meetings occur? Other teachers can see what your class is doing and offer suggestions or request help with their own undertakings. Your site lets you connect with other educators and enthusiasts who share your skills, your goals, and your thoughts.
3. A Digital Portfolio of Your Skills & Accomplishments
A website can provide a clear and visual overview of what you’ve accomplished as a teacher. Being able to adjust this with just a few clicks means it’s as dynamic as your real world is and reflects your continual growth. How much more impressive is it to see the awards your students have garnered, your real-world educational-trips, and your professional development record, rather than just a brief general exchange that someone is a quality teacher.
4. Provide Instant Notifications & Anytime Adjustments
How often do students use the excuse that they didn’t know what the assignment was or that they didn’t get the notification. This becomes a non-starter, even amongst the most wily of students. With a website that all students know has the most recent updates/notifications and even sends notifications to them when any change is made, everyone is always on the same page and up to date. Need to change a part of a syllabus, it can be done and delivered in a few minutes. Need to change the meeting location for a class trip, it’s a simple matter of opening your site’s simple administration panel and changing a date field.
For private tutors keeping track of each student’s individual progress can be as simple as both of you updating their personal webpage at the end of each lesson for a continuous and simple timeline of what’s been done and what needs to be done next. And updating the student’s personal section of the site with grades and assignments and having it instantaneously notify the student that a change has been made.
5. Notify Parents of Dates, News, Curriculum
It can’t be stated how important this is to many parents. Being able to keep abreast of what their students are learning in class allows them to be a 2nd monitor and to feel more a part of their child’s education. It also holds both them and their child more accountable; if a curriculum or lessons are posted for anyone who has online connection to see, which is just about all of America at this point, there’s no excuse for not keeping abreast and involved. And you don’t have to worry about students who don’t tell their parents what they’re learning, there’s no more hiding it!
When students are having problems or difficulty there’s no longer any reason to wait until mid-way through a semester to get feedback from a teacher. Parents can see grades or notifications immediately, and with an online curriculum always accessible they have the opportunity to help or to get the extra support their child needs.
Most parents really do want to help their child’s learning. And a website with the appropriate tools can provide them with the information and timely warnings necessary for them to stop their child from sliding too far behind.
6. Get Feedback
Let’s face it, it’s hard to accept tough feedback, even constructive criticism. But as teachers, without it we’re stuck in old patterns and stale habits, which we all have. Allowing a medium where students and parents can openly make suggestions and offer ideas offers so much potential for growth and adjustment. An enormous amount of information is left on the table when confusion and mis-communication leave students or parents feeling that they can’t be heard. If you’re not afraid of letting those that depend on you have their say – and yes there will be some hard cases and blow-hards that just want to sound off – then the opportunity for growth with just this one aspect of a website can be enough to get started.
The reality is that this is how so much communication is taking place now, and not providing digital means for feedback to occur means your losing one of the main corridors that your students use to engage with the world. Forums, blogs, online surveys, and social media are all ways to gather information and keep abreast of what your students need, how they are doing and the pulse of your courses and classes.
7. More Professional Credibility
With students, as well parents these days, offering a great looking site that is up to date and full of great information gives you a certain cachet; you’re the teacher with technical know-how, with the website that is just as slick as the ones they use an a day-to-day basis. This really means something, and not just in a superficial sense. By offering a 21st century medium for communication it shows you are resourceful and willing to try and succeed with new ventures. You’ve spent your time on learning new ways to approach teaching and new ways to create dynamic learning environments.
8. The Easiest Document Repository | Your Online Teaching Catalog
Homework handout lost or misplaced? Check the website. Not sure when the project is due? Check the website. Need a field-trip form? Check the website. the amount of time saved with this one feature alone is worth the effort and expense it may cost to create a website. Post it once and refer to it forever. Better yet let them know any handout or form related question is answered on page one of your site, always. Uploading documents and listing them on any page desired is easy to do with most website packages or content management systems. And keeping certain pages public or private is usually just as easy.
For private tutors that often re-use their personal worksheets and forms, having a document storage area means they no longer have to print out copies for their students or locate that folder where they stored it. And when you have similar students it becomes a cinch to create worksheet-powered syllabus’ that you can password protect for each student or for student groups.
9. It’s Yours: Move or Change Jobs & It Moves with You
A website you’ve created for yourself and maintained by yourself, is not something you must leave behind in a file cabinet. It can’t get repossessed and in never needs to be tossed to start afresh. Your content is yours. As the content grows and as your site expands to fill more needs of your students, it also becomes a valuable asset for you to capitalize on in new markets and to make market yourself for new opportunities.
10. Meet Students On Their Own Turf
Your students are probably more comfortable with the Internet than you are. They use it for entertainment, communication, social networking, and games. And they never knew a World without the Internet. Now you’ve created something in that world which makes you seem more relevant and interesting. They in turn are more interested in the material you’re offering online.