«

»

Jun 12

A Classroom Website or Blog is a Must for Every Teacher

As the world gets more and more connected, and more and more information is accessible, isn’t it time that every teacher has a class website or blog?  I was in a meeting earlier this year at a school and a parent asked the teacher if she had a website.  The teacher replied that she did not, and in not so many words, said she wasn’t tech savvy enough.  At first, I just shook my head and wondered why.  Lack of interest?  Her lack of time?  Lack of time?  But the more I thought about this, the more I got frustrated.  To me, it’s simply not acceptable anymore for a teacher, especially a classroom teacher, to not have a class website or blog, or even a wiki – something to share the successes of the classroom, keep parents up to date on what’s going on in the classroom, and to build a strong relationship between school and home.

Creating a site has never been easier.  People no longer need to know how to code or do any complex computing, in many cases, posting something as simply as text is about as easy as sending an email.  In addition, I would bet that there are students in almost every classroom who would love to help not only set up the online class space, but would also work to create the content.  It wouldn’t be that difficult to update the site at least every few days.

Am I wrong in thinking that teachers not having a class site should no longer be acceptable?  Should we, as parents, be raising this concern with our school and district leadership?  My child, when asked about his day, rarely give me anything of substance.  I’d love to be able to see what’s going on by simply heading to a class page.  Why not document the excitement, learning, and cool things going on in our classrooms?  When teachers and the education system are getting bashed, we need to be sharing the wonderful things happening, but most teachers are not.  School leaders need to make this a priority.

Am I crazy in this thinking?  Do you agree?  What can be done to help some this problem?

 

Share
16 comments
TechyNana
TechyNana

Chad,

Yes, copying and pasting a newsletter would be easy, but without the PD and understanding of why a classroom 'should' have a blog it does seem like one more thing ...

I find @twhitford's comment, "Still, I see it as something I have to be supportive of and not just mandate. If I can provide the training on the tools and then set aside some time for the process, it may be more easily started and then continued." the most understanding of what is required to encourage his teachers. Each step in the process - training as well as producing, and even learning how to have one's students update the blog - has a learning curve and is a priority. 

The discoveries I made while finishing my thesis 10 years ago are still hold true today. Teachers need PD, encouragement, and support. as they take their own baby steps to accomplish their goals, even if mandated by administration. They also need the same care and attention in their learning as they offer their students. A short blog each week by a newbie blogger is to be celebrated in the same way as that of an accomplished blogger!

Diann Parker
Diann Parker like.author.displayName 1 Like

The thing about blogging is that once you get into the habit of posting, then suddenly ideas for something more to add seem to be everywhere. Perhaps it would be helpful if administrators lead the way with useful blogs and sharing content they have found that is interesting? I think part of the reluctance might be not knowing what to blog about.

Shbah
Shbah

I simply cannot suppport any statements with the word should in it.  Not for myself or for my colleagues.  

Sincere invitations with the promise of support if necessary but never any "thou shalt proclamations"!

 

 

chadlehman
chadlehman moderator

 @Shbah Why? Teachers are told to do things all the time by leadership.  Do you not see the benefit of increased communication with families?

mallen2
mallen2

And when do we fit this in the schedule? I agree it would be nice but take something out before you add more work. When I come home, I'd like to be able to do a little bonding with my family.

chadlehman
chadlehman moderator

 @mallen2 I'm not sure you really have to take something out.  I think there are ways you could incorporate it into the daily routine.  Once it becomes habit, it won't be another thing to do. 

mallen2
mallen2

 @chadlehman At the elementary level there isn't any down time. I love technology, but I'm busy trying to make sure my students have the experience. Many of our parents don't have internet access. If they don't check homework I don't see them accessing a website. If you want to build in time at school then I can do it, but I'll be honest, I don't have the time at home. I am entitled to a little personal time.

educatoral
educatoral

It's too easy to create AND maintain a class blog or website to NOT do it. It's an easy way to communicate with families. I lean towards requiring it but then I already do it so it's easy for me to say.

twhitford
twhitford like.author.displayName 1 Like

I completely get where you are coming from Chad.  While I do encourage my staff to create a classroom website or blog, I don't require it.  Maybe I should?  Although, that may be a School Board decision, not mine.  It is incredibly easy and I agree that kids could probably handle the information entry and updating.  It would be a good writing and keyboarding practice for them.  I think many teachers see it as an additional thing to do, even though most of them write a weekly newsletter already.  I'm sure they don't realize they could just copy & paste that into their blog or website.  Still, I see it as something I have to be supportive of and not just mandate.  If I can provide the training on the tools and then set aside some time for the process, it may be more easily started and then continued.

AListerCA
AListerCA

It's likely that the teacher in question has not considered the the benefits of maintaining a class blog, only the time required to set up and maintain. I agree that web 2.0 has made it incredibly easy to create and maintain an online presence, but districts it seems are incredibly reluctant to mandate that it is a requirement (Why?) I've worked in schools where the principal will require it of the staff. Everyone set up their webpage, but updating was another story. Unfortunately, some teachers just see it as "another thing to do"... 

 

@alisterca

chadlehman
chadlehman moderator

 @AListerCA So how can we get around the "another thing to do" idea?

AListerCA
AListerCA

 @chadlehman  @AListerCA I think mallen2 pretty much illustrated what I was talking about in his/her comment. Many teachers feel overworked and feel like they have too much on their plate. I've heard it several times from colleagues the saying "take something off my plate before you put something more on".

 

Mandating would result in the task being completed at the lowest level because there is no value placed on the activity by the individual carrying it out. It really begins with the activity being valued as a way of meeting our professional responsibilities. 

 

The message from admin should begin with setting an expectation for improved communication with home and families. That is a professional responsibility and if it is not being done well, a teacher should work to improve in that capacity. 

 

Maybe a comparison between methods of communication with home can be made. Phone calls vs. monthly newsletters vs. emails vs. blogs. If teachers realize that the simplest and most effective way to fulfill their professional responsibility of communicating learning with students and parents is a combination of blog and email, maybe they will be more likely to invest the time it takes to get started. 

 

 

knight5
knight5

 @chadlehman  @AListerCA I don't think you can put all those other things aside. With the amount of responsibilities increasing, we need to start prioritizes things based on need and what is really going to help the students improve. If people feel that a class blog or webpage is going to truly impact the success of their students it will be high on the priority list. If it is just another tool of giving out information that is already being distributed, it may be lower on the list. I use a class blog and it is very easy. I admit that it comes and goes. When things become "mandated" people are expected to do it with very little or no training. I just don't get this. Can you imagine telling a student they are mandated to do something that they have never done? Training, training, training. That is the key! Get us excited to use something new instead of telling us that we have to use it! Tell us how it will benefit the kids and I bet most teachers will jump on board. 

chadlehman
chadlehman moderator

@AListerCA

Okay, I get that districts are adding more to the plate and rather than take something off, they simply give teachers a bigger plate.  I've seen this myself and don't disagree that it's a problem. 

 

What I'd like to know, putting that issue aside, is that whether or not the IDEA of requiring teachers to do this is a good one.  Forget when they'd do it or the training that might be involved, is this something that's important enough that it should be done by all, much like lesson planning and report cards?