What information on a teacher website?
January 28, 2011 6:44 AM   Subscribe

What information do you want on your kid's teacher's website?

We're looking to have our teachers create websites which will be linked from our school's main website. While I'm also interested in student perspectives, I'm more interested to hear what a parent would like to see on a teacher website. What info is it that you want to see and be able to read?
This would be for grade K-12 and I am planning on breaking down guidelines by elementary/middle school/high school.

A couple of things I already have is the syllabus, teaching experience, and expectations. I don't know if assignments would be a good idea because the reality is most websites will probably be static/updated once or twice a year.
posted by jmd82 to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best way to reach the teacher during school times: voicemail or email? If you can't do homework (shame about that, it really is helpful), then at least specific dates for as much as possible: major tests, science fairs or field trips.
posted by misha at 6:51 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

As a former parent of K-12 kids, the one thing I most definitely would have wanted was current assignments and their due dates. That would really be the only reason I'd check a teacher's webpage. Luckily, my kids' school used PowerSchool, and the teachers were very good about keeping it updated.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:57 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Information on what kind of parent volunteer help the teacher needs, especially if there is work that can be done outside of normal school hours.
posted by shiny blue object at 6:59 AM on January 28, 2011

A general schedule of what the kids will be doing and recommended books/home activities to support the classroom learning.

A professional bio detailing their degrees and teaching experience.

Teachers in my daughter's school district take pictures during the year and at the end of the year a parent volunteer sets them to music and puts them on a DVD which is handed out at the last day of school. Along these same lines, a photo gallery showing some of the activities that the kids do would be neat.

Recommended age-appropriate websites

Maybe put together a list of survey questions that all teachers can answer, such as "What do you love about teaching?" "Tell us about a teacher that influenced you when you were little," "How do you feel about snow days?" etc. Could be kind of interesting to read!
posted by Ostara at 6:59 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm not a parent, I'm a teacher. Will the teachers have access to their websites to make additions and changes? Most teachers at my school who do have websites have them for assignments and student discussion. Students who have been away can get the assignment. Students can refer back to it if they lose their handout. If a student does not do their assignment the teacher can call the parent and point them to the assignment on the website. The other benefit a few teachers have taken advantage of is continuing the class discussion on their website. So if the class is having a good discussion/debate about something in class and the bell is going to go, the teacher tells the class that their homework is to make a comment about the discussion on the website.
posted by sadtomato at 7:01 AM on January 28, 2011

A daily schedule...what days they have gym, music, art. What time is lunch, recess etc.
A PDF of the monthly newsletter (maybe not an option since updating is an issue)
What are the teacher's expectations are for family involvement and participation?
How much time spent doing homework every evening?
Volunteer opps in the classroom or at the school
Supplies we could contribute to the classroom, fundraisers that are going on etc.

We get reams and reams of paper and it's difficult to keep up with. I'd love it if everything that comes home in paper form would also be available on a website...either the schools or the teachers.
posted by victoriab at 7:02 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also, a teacher wish list. Sometimes there are things that are handy in the classroom that aren't covered by the school budget. Our teachers have asked for things like ziploc bags, clorox wipes, a small handheld vacuum for crumbs, grocery store giftcards for extra snacks/food activities, etc. Usually parents are happy to donate. Our elementary school put up a big paper tree in the hallway and the "wishes" were printed on apples. Parents could take an apple and buy the wish, and then turn it into the office. You could easily just put the wish list on the web page as well.
posted by Ostara at 7:04 AM on January 28, 2011

Former primary grades teacher here.

Outdated information is the worst thing to have up. If the syllabus is going to change, and it probably is, but no one is updating the website, due dates and assignments will just be creating confusion and frustration. Only post dates if someone is going to have the time to update and maintain the page.

"Teaching experience" -- I'd actually like to see a real bio, maybe 1-graf bio, and then fields where the teachers can enter their teaching assignments, locations, and years, education (schools and degrees), areas of specialty, additional training, professional development certificates, awards, etc.

Photo of the teacher.

A place for links to online resources that will be helpful for topics addressed in class - online book editions, videos, music files, informative sites, sites for field trip destinations, etc.

One question I have is what the purpose of the "teacher page" is. Is it a page about the teacher, or a page about the class? I'd expect a class website to have major calendar dates, expectations, readings/textbook lists with specific editions, syllabus, etc. The information about the teacher that's more professional/personal strikes me as a different category of information. Is this page meant to do double duty - be an introduction and reference for the teacher AND a class information page? If so, the organization of the page should probably emphasize the information most useful to current students and parents, which is the syllabus and any assignments that aren't expected to change. Once you've read the teacher's bio once, you aren't likely to need to return to it.
posted by Miko at 7:04 AM on January 28, 2011

My son's middle school uses Progress Book to list all assignments and averages. I absolutely love it because we ("we" being the parents and the child) can see, day to day, what's due and how he's doing. My daughter's elementary school only offers what you're talking about and I never, ever use it. It's just not helpful, to be honest. I would love to see them switch to Progress Book (same district, I don't know why they won't) so we could actually see what's due and where she's having problems before they start affecting her grades.
posted by cooker girl at 7:05 AM on January 28, 2011

I should clarify something: The idea is for these websites to be a landing site. Some teachers do put assignments online; they'll use an online wiki/Moodle/something else to do so that's more conducive to frequent updates. These wikis would be linked from their landing page.

While teachers will be able to update their websites whenever they want, requiring updating assignments is not going to happen.

We do have an online gradebook system, but using it to keep track of upcoming assignments doesn't work very well.
posted by jmd82 at 7:08 AM on January 28, 2011

My district has an online gradebook system and separate teacher websites (through SchoolCenter.) We are required to have our schedule, contact information, and syllabus posted. I do more but I keep in mind that not everyone has internet access outside of school so it's not generally the ONLY place I put important information.

I update my site every day and it's really not a pain. I created a calendar page where I can summarize what we did in class and I got my students/parents to sign up as subscribers to the page so that I can send out text message or email subscribers. On days when there is HW I send out a quick text like this "Bio-finish notes, A&P-quiz, Enviro-relax!" My students LOVE them and I have definitely had a noticeable increase in the amount of homework being turned in on time and students willing to come early for help. The vast majority of my subscribers get the messages via texts because my community is not very well off and many of my students don't have internet at home (or they have really slow connections.) An added benefit of updating every day: I can "train" my kiddos to check the website before coming to me after an absence.

On my subject specific pages, I generally just put links I expect kids to use on webquests, to help with review for quizzes, or for links to google docs that the kids need to collaborate on. Just yesterday I added some video data from experiments students are running. I also currently have a survey for our sophs and juniors to take regarding next year's science electives which is MUCH easier for me to manage than handing out slips of paper to other teachers and then tallying up.
posted by adorap0621 at 7:24 AM on January 28, 2011

Information on what kind of parent volunteer help the teacher needs, especially if there is work that can be done outside of normal school hours.

posted by zombieApoc at 7:47 AM on January 28, 2011

One thing I'd like to see is some suggestions for things that parents can do outside of class to help their students, similar to this question, especially if they are related to the content of that grade level.

If Science class this year will be all about animals, suggest a visit to the Nature Museum. Games to play, educational video games, songs to learn, books to check out of the library, etc. There doesn't have to be any accounting or extra credit, just some suggestions.
posted by CathyG at 7:54 AM on January 28, 2011

If you can't put homework up --- then I don't need anything more than teachers' names and contact info.

I dont care about teaching philosophy --- if I can't choose the teacher based on that philosophy or have an opportunity to influence their philosophy, why do I care?
posted by vitabellosi at 8:18 AM on January 28, 2011

if I can't choose the teacher based on that philosophy or have an opportunity to influence their philosophy, why do I care?

I would still find this information useful, especially in conferences, or in working with my child to understand why a certain approach was being taken. Also, perhaps to pinpoint areas where there might be a mismatch. For instance, if my child were struggling with math skills and the teacher was embracing an inquiry approach that was leaving my child behind due to lack of drill and practice, I might want to supplement that with practice at home. Regardless of whether you choose the teacher, knowing their pedagogical approach and understanding how it might interacts with your child's particular needs, strengths, and weaknesses could be a great help to managing your child's education.
posted by Miko at 10:21 AM on January 28, 2011

Having assignments posted is a huge benefit to parents and students. Many kids live in more than 1 household. Your school should help teachers learn to post weekly syllabus updates. It shouldn't take a great deal of time, and the benefits are significant.
posted by theora55 at 11:22 AM on January 28, 2011

vitabellosi: "If you can't put homework up --- then I don't need anything more than teachers' names and contact info.

I dont care about teaching philosophy --- if I can't choose the teacher based on that philosophy or have an opportunity to influence their philosophy, why do I care

Well, on the one hand I agree, but on the other, it helps to have a point of reference when you are talking to the teacher and when your child brings home an assignment that seems odd. "Oh, its because my teacher believes in letting them figure it out on their own is why he gave an assignment on information my daughter has never seen."
posted by AugustWest at 11:29 AM on January 28, 2011

my teacher page, the one the district requires me to have, contains basic contact info, a little blurb about my philosophy (chiefly pertaining to homework and responsibility n-stuff), and a script that fetches and serves the feedburner feed for my class blog.

the blog is the thing that really matters, and it's where my parents go to keep updated with what's going on in our room. it's hosted off-site at blogspot. i update it everyday. takes a couple minutes. use it to post homework, announcements, forms, and sundry other things.

wanna see what i'm talking about? just pm me and i'll give ya the links.
posted by RockyChrysler at 12:57 PM on January 29, 2011

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