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Why teachers need websites: a personal aside

Working on my teacher's survival guide section on teacher websites. From the draft:

A personal aside

Indulge me for a moment by reading a personal tale of parental frustration.

When my son Brady was in the fifth-grade, he came home with a report card that was, shall we say, less than impressive. This bright, hard working boy was getting D's in social studies, science, and health. The first parent-teacher conference of the year was held ten weeks after school began, and it wasn’t until then that I learned of the problems he was having.

At the conference, I asked his teacher a favor. "Please let me know what Brady needs to know in these areas, when the test dates are, and when the projects are due. I will help make sure he knows what he needs to know!"

A bit flustered, the teacher said she would get back to me.

I never saw the list of competencies or test dates, but I also noticed Brady never received less than a B in her class again. While at the time I viewed this as victory for proactive parenting, I have since worried that the skills and knowledge Brady should have gained during that year fell by the wayside.

Brady’s teacher missed a tremendous opportunity by not enlisting my help and the help of the other children’s parents in her class. Over one-fourth of the year was gone before I knew my son was having problems. Even had I known he was struggling, I did not know enough about the curricular content or teacher’s expectations to know how to help.

Parents do want to help. They just need information. And technology can help you provide that information.

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Reader Comments (9)

I couldn't agree more, especially as a parent with a school-aged child! There's really no excuse for being non-communicative with all of the available technology.

December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSasha

I really appreciate that you called this "Why teachers need websites," because as a teacher reading your request if I had not seen that title, I would think you were asking for frequent personal emails about your son's progress. As you can imagine, this can get overwhelming - less so if you're only teaching 30 students than if you're at the middle or high school level and have 90 - 150, but even so, it can be a challenge.

If a teacher isn't broadcasting this kind of information (I had special access to my Blackboard page for parents, where they could find all of my lesson plans) then a weekly email can often do the trick. Just a quick note to the teacher to check in might get a good response. I know when parents made requests like this of me, I told them that if they initiated, I would be happy to respond.

December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly


I totally agree. Actually this is what a good portion of my dissertation is about -


December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHenry Thiele

This is the one message I've never effectively been able to get across. Even if a teacher has a website, if they don't update it, it's relatively useless. Far too many teachers still rebel at the thought of the technology required to create a website (including many younger teachers). It only happens if a principal requires it to happen. One happy exception to that rule is my sons' band teacher. (My sons attend school in a different district from the one where I worked). He not only accepted my premise that a website was essential, he created a good one, which he updates frequently with photos and dates: I had him set it up on Google Sites because his district doesn't provide any software for teachers to use. I've provided hand-holding through the process, but not much more. When he asked me if I thought he should have a Facebook page, I replied that I thought that was a great idea, so he set up one of those too, and it's become a fun way to track what's happening with the band: But he is my single true success story from two districts. Some others set up pages, but they didn't update them. Most refused to set one up.

December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJude

I totally agree - especially here in a private school with our tuition. As a teacher I gave the students who attended the open house a fictitious student account and password to my LMS so they could go and see the exact same site that the students use. Although I do not know how many actually visited, at least I know that it is out there.

December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

This afternoon I had a teacher ask me, the tech integrationist, why she should spend time creating a classroom website. She was struggling to understand how a site would benefit her students or the community or how it would be an improvement from her current weekly newsletter. Your post arrived at a perfect time and will be shared. Thank-you.

December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa Bushey

Hi Kimberly,

Yes, this was a bit out of context - it accompanies the part of the book about good teacher websites. Sorry for the confusion!


Thanks, Hank. I'll take a look at your thesis!


Hi Jude,

It's ironic that too many teachers don't realize that by spending a relatively small amount of time getting a website set up and maintaining it, they can save huge amounts of time down the road.

One day....


Hi Kenn,

I wouldn't be surprised if parents did visit. I also think a website alone is not enough. Some how messages have to sent directly to parents reminding them of the information on it and when it has been changed.


HI Melissa,

Glad to hear it.


December 16, 2010 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Leadership needs to set the expectation. How a teacher communicates with your parents should be part of their evaluation. No one should be in the dark about what the class focus is, when homework is due, when tests are scheduled. Period!

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDottie

Hi Dorothy,

Well, I agree, of course. I wonder if this work can be offset as well by not having to constantly dig up and photocopy materials for parents? I worry we keep adding to teachers' plates with technology, but never take anything off!


December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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