Teacher Webpage Ideas

As we're beginning the new school year, the last thing you might be thinking about is designing your teacher webpage.  Yes, you have a to-do list growing by the minute, and I completely recognize that addressing this may not even be in your top 20.  The thing about the to-do list, is that if you had more time, it could probably be knocked out much faster.  It's just that a lot of things slow us down from finishing that list.

If you know me, then you know that parent communication is one of my biggest priorities.  I strive to be consistent in the information I provide to all parents.  I spend an enormous amount of time each week disseminating information to parents.  I spend countless stolen minutes throughout the day (my lunch, my conference period when I need to be planning lessons, after 5pm when my baby is hungry for dinner...) responding to emails and making sure that everyone is "in the know."



Last year I decided to find a way to take back that time.  I needed more time to create more hands-on lessons for my students.  I needed time to gather all of the supplies needed for those lessons.  There is only so much time in the day.  Where do I find those crucial minutes so that I can have more time to get to that to-do list?

I decided to use my teacher webpage to help me stop repeating myself in emails and communication logs.  I decided I could use my teacher webpage to be more consistent in the information that I provide parents.  I decided that I finally needed to have a way to keep ALL parents "in the know" simultaneously.  Doing so has allowed me to utilize those stolen moments so that I can appropriate more time for creating more meaningful lessons.

Many campuses provide teachers with access to a teacher webpage account.  It's difficult to provide an exact "how to," because each provider will give templates and formats that are different.  The intent of this post is to give you ideas when you create your own page.  I also include directions on how to embed a Google calendar into your webpage, as this will save you a lot of time in letting parents know what is happening when.

In case you'd like to visit my actual teacher webpage, you can go to www.arianamorrow.weebly.com. I'm posting a lot of screen shots, so keep in mind that the little green post-its are speaking to you, but they're not really there.

HOME PAGE

Of course, you need to have a home page.  I like to put a picture of myself on the page, because I would want to see who my daughter is spending her whole day with.  Crucial information should be your email address, your conference time, and if applicable, your classroom phone number.


ASSIGNMENT CALENDAR

Next, I like to have an assignment calendar.  I don't necessarily give assignments, as I teach in an alternative learning environment, where many students do not do typical work.  This calendar, though, is a great way for me to let parents know about upcoming events (Special Olympics, picture day, state testing days, campus events, special projects, etc.)


The best way that the other A.L.E. teacher (Mrs. Lodge) and I have found to keep this information updated is with a Google Calendar.  We both have access to this calendar, and we can both add to it with the updates showing up simultaneously on both of our teacher webpages.  Under the calendar, I provide 4 different links where parents can download the curriculum calendars for each of the nine weeks of the school year.  Because many of our students cannot go home and have conversations with their parents about what they're learning (do any teenagers really do that anyway?), parents can see what topics we're focusing on in school and open up that dialogue with their students.


Below you can read how to add a Google Calendar to your own teacher webpage.



It's THAT simple!  Hahaha....after 8 steps, or more, depending on your teacher webpage host.

INSTRUCTIONAL RESOURCES

I include a few other pages on my site that provide parents with more information.  One page that is very helpful is my Instructional Resources page.  Because many of my students do not do pencil/paper work, it's difficult for parents who want to reinforce learning at home to do so.  To best support these parents and students, I provide a page with links under each subject area that can be used to reinforce learning at home.  Because students are working at many levels, parents have the opportunity to find a site that best fits their student's needs.


I start with reading, math and science.  Parents or students can click on any link and be taken directly to an educational website.  Currently, I have 34 links for reading, 34 links for math and 29 links for science.


I also share 25 links for social studies and 21 additional links to enrich student learning.  Not ALL links are appropriate for every student.  This is the nature of the alternative learning environment.  If parents choose for their students to have homework, these links can provide an option.


ABOUT ME

It's a good idea to have an About Me page on your site.  We all work very hard to be in a position where we can take on the responsibility of educating youth, and this is our chance to tell those new parents who we are.


With some parents, I've been afforded years for them to get to know me, but for new parents, it can be very scary.  They are trusting us with their most valuable love, and I want them to know that everything is going to be okay.


CLASSROOM NEWSLETTERS

My next page is my Classroom Newsletter page.  I am NOT a paper waster, and I also try to avoid sending home unnecessary pages that may never make it home.  On the below image, you won't see any buttons below the pictures because we're just starting the year.  Every month I will add a button under the month that will directly link parents to a download of my newsletter.  On my newsletter I include information such as birthdays, sight words, monthly need-to-knows, etc.



BEGINNING THE YEAR

Okay, this is where things get REAL.  There is SO MUCH information that parents need to know before the school year starts.  Sometimes we have our parents' emails and phone numbers, and sometimes we don't.  I have a page for Beginning the School Year.  Not all is pictured here, but I first include the classroom supply list (a special needs classroom needs different supplies than other classrooms).  I also include information about Open House, how to obtain ID cards, details about lunch accounts and procedures, if students need P.E. uniforms (and if so, how to obtain them), when to call the classroom phone, arrival and dismissal procedures, and information about the restroom.


COMMUNITY RESOURCES

My next page is about Community Resources.  At the end of the year I get a lot of questions about programs for special needs students in the summer.  I provide parents with, currently, 34 links to activities available for students, ranging from daytime activities to full care in Texas and the San Antonio area.  Parents can click the buttons to be taken to each program's webpage.


ELECTIVES

My next page addresses a hot topic.  The transition from elementary to middle school is a BIG one.  As a previous special education teacher in elementary school, I know that students participate in "specials" where their one elective (music, art, P.E., etc.) may rotate from day to day.  At this young age, there is a lot more flexibility.  Once students enter middle school, they are tied to blocks of time on a bell schedule where students move freely about the school.  Schedules are written by coordinators to put students in certain classes at certain times.  The rigor of classes increases greatly, as well as the class sizes.  This can pose a challenge when it comes to electives.  Music classes aren't purely "participating," but rather students are held to competitive standards in multiple, very specific groups.  It's very important to find the right elective for the right student so that they are not overwhelmed or overstimulated.  On my campus in the alternative learning program, we offer two different work skills electives and a social skills elective.  There are also general education electives available to our students.  I know from experience that many people in the elementary IEP team are not completely aware of the rigor involved in certain electives, as well as the critical skills offered in other electives.

In an attempt to help these teams make the most educated choices for their students, I created a page that describes electives available to students on our campus.  The team who knows the student the best can project this information on the screen, directly from my page, and determine which learning environment will best meet the needs of their student.  It's win-win for everyone!


READING, MATH, SCIENCE, SOCIAL STUDIES & LANGUAGE ARTS

Possibly excessive, yes, but that's me.  I created five pages on my site specifically for parents.  When they visited the aforementioned Calendar page, parents were able to access the curriculum calendars for each of the four 9-weeks.  This information is reiterated in my Classroom Newsletter.  Parents can then visit each of these five subject pages to locate what we're learning and download resources to reinforce learning at home.  Homework resource #2?  Yes, it is.  Reading materials are very difficult to access for parents (jeez, even for us!)  Even if students aren't readers, parents can print these resources and read them to their students.  This is a completely optional resource, but if the time can be found, it shows students that parents are aware of what they are learning and are actively engaged in their education. 




8TH GRADERS MOVING TO HIGH SCHOOL

Perhaps not such a big deal now, but you may want to add the next page by the end of the school year.  Just as the transition from elementary to middle school is scary, everyone can get comfortable after three years, and then the HUGE transition to high school begins to loom.  I contacted the staff at our high school and asked for information about things that I knew parents wanted to know.  The questions coming to me weren't about academics (because they felt confident in what was set in the IEP).  The questions from my parents were about how their student would be cared for.

I created a page for parents to learn about transitioning their student to high school.  Information on this page includes how lunch, restroom and snack are handled.  It explains to parents how case managers are assigned, and it explains (briefly) how behavior is handled.  This page is just a brief overview, because of course, high school staff must be contacted for specifics.  It does, however, introduce the transition from middle school to high school.


MEETINGS

My last page may seem a little silly, but I saw a need.  There are A LOT of meetings in special education.  Every time there is a meeting, there is A LOT of paperwork.  Every time a teacher stops to do paperwork, what they are stopping is planning enriching lessons for students.  Like I said before, there is only so much time in a teacher's 12+ hour work day.  Meetings held for the right purposes are RIGHT.  On the other hand, it's important for everyone to know what kind of meetings are held and why.  How will parents know unless we tell them?  There are many issues that can be addressed through having a parent/teacher conference and not holding an ARD (Admission, Review and Dismissal Meeting).  If parents and teachers can solve the problem through a conference, then everything will happen faster without paperwork and gathering team members to slow it down.

I created this page to let ALL parents know their options when it comes to meetings.  I sincerely hope it helps to expedite the meeting of student needs in the most appropriate way.


Well, if you had the patience to read through all of this, then you must have a need.  Even if this is number 50 on your list, I hope this will be a good resource for you, whenever you get to it.

A solid and comprehensive teacher webpage can save you an enormous amount of time in the long haul, and that time can be spent on more pressing matters.  Even if you add a page a month, you're on your way, and by the end of the year, you have template that may only need to be edited from year to year.  Good luck, and I wish you an amazing school year!


Currently: August

Today I'm linking up with Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade to bring you the August Currently.


Listening:  My printer has been working overtime printing out new goodies for my classroom.  I've found so many great activities and visuals written by teachers.  I wish I'd known about these resources my first year teaching!

Loving:  I love all of the time I've been able to spend getting to know my daughter this summer.  I'm ready to get back in the classroom, but I'm going to miss all of this quality time with her.



Thinking:  Oh, the to-do list.  The list that grows faster than it can be checked off.  The list that won't be finished until next June.  THE LIST.

Wanting:  Okay, we're not a Houston Texans family, but we ARE a Hard Knocks family, and this year they're with the Houston Texans.  Getting geared up for football is one of the exciting parts of this time of year; I love the Sunday ritual, the BBQs and of course, shouting at the T.V. with my husband.  I'm going to tackle that to-do list like J.J. Watt lifts a tire!



Needing:  I sent this little picture out to my campus teachers last week asking for books.  Every year I try to tackle a new project.  This year, it's the A.L.E. classroom library in the fall and the garden in the spring.  I've already gotten a few messages from my peers, and I'm grateful to work with such great and supportive teachers!



B2S RAK:  I was recently part of a linky party sharing teacher time savers.  Tammy at Literacy Loves Company shared a mini crock pot find, and it reminded me of one of the things I love about going back to school.  In the haze of meetings, planning and gathering, I love taking the time to have a little team potluck.  It's those stolen moments that keep our team strong and having fun at work.  I'm looking forward to seeing those amazing paraprofessionals!


Thank you for taking the time to drop by my Currently.  If you want to link up, click the button below.


Summer Giveaway


Only 2 weeks to go until we're back in action!  Remember to make that first day a little sweeter by entering to win a $20 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers.  There are a lot of ways to follow my page (Bloglovin or Google+), or if you don't have an account with them, you can follow one of my social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter).  Remember to also scroll to July 4th on my blog to enter the actual drawing.  The winner will be announced on Monday, August 24th.  Good luck!

Teacher Time Savers

Hello teachers, and welcome back to the year that will be like no other (aren't they all?!).  Today I'm linking up with Literacy Loves Company to share some time saving ideas.


This linky comes at the perfect time, as I think most of us are trying to think of ways to make this year run more efficiently.  I've prepped the house as much as possible for my eventual return to the classroom, finally breaking down and buying an automatic coffee maker to save some time.  But then there's the classroom.  I dove in this week and began setting up the room, with particular focus on ways to save time.

The first thing I always get to is my Student Information Cards.  These have evolved for me over the years, but they always include the same basic information.  The need for something like this was evident the first year I began teaching.  I wasted so much time running to find phone numbers, looking up meeting dates and deadlines, and in general, trying to track down information that I needed about a student when I was never in the right place to access it.



I use these so much during the year, that even if it's a returning student, I still make a new card.  Each card includes information about the student such as their grade level, ID#, parents' names, phone numbers, email addresses, allergies, times to take medications, meeting dates, qualifying disabilities, services received, and their specific transportation needs.  I like to color code the cards by grade level, adhere them to index cards and then hard laminate them.  They're polished off with a hole punch and a metal ring.

I keep the Student Information Cards handy in my desk (always in the same spot, so I don't have to look for this TOO).  If I have an IEP meeting, I make sure to take this with me.  It comes in particular handy if a parent is running late, and you have a room full of people waiting for you to make a phone call.  I keep the cards by my side when I'm writing schedules and need to remember which students see which therapist on which day.  I feel more at ease having a student's allergy and medication information at my fingertips, knowing that no important detail will fall through the cracks.



You can make your own cards, or if you want to SAVE TIME, you can find the template for these cards, as well as other time saving templates, in my Back to School Templates.  The Back to School Guide includes samples of these cards, as well as additional lists, letters and logs that are helpful in beginning your school year.

I can't wait to read all of the other time saving ideas from teachers in this linky party!  We're each other's best support, and I'm so happy to collaborate with such amazing teachers!


Happy Planning!