If you’re like most teachers, you’ve probably heard that you should have your own website. Advocates of teacher websites are quick to mention all of the benefits. They improve communication with students and parents. They foster engagement. They keep you and your students connected. The advantages of a classroom website are clear.
However, there are likely also some significant hurdles that have kept you from creating your own site. For starters, you’re busy teaching. You’ve got your hands full. You have a class (or maybe several classes) of kids to teach. You have papers to grade and reports to read. And don’t even mention that continuing education that you haven’t started yet. Building a website is pretty far down your to-do list.
Even if you did have the time, you may not know where to begin. After all, you’re a teacher, not a website designer. You don’t know anything about code or design or anything else that’s needed to pull off your own website set-up.
Fear not. Setting up a teacher website isn’t nearly as time-consuming or as complicated as you may believe. In fact, with many of the classroom website templates now available, you can create a teacher website in just minutes. You don’t even need tech experience to do it.
The best part? Many of these classroom website templates are free. Creating your own website is as simple as planning your site, choosing a template, and implementing it in your classroom and with your students’ parents.
How to use a teacher website template to build your site
Just follow the three steps below and you’ll have your own teacher website up and ready-to-use in minutes.
1) Plan your site.
Creating your site will be easier if you know exactly what you want to get out of it. You likely want to increase communication and engagement with your students, but those are broad goals. Specifically, what do you want the site to do?
With most teacher website templates, there are a wide variety of features available. The only real limit is your imagination. Here’s a sampling of some of the most common features used on classroom websites:
- Collect student assignments
- Post an online quiz, survey, or poll
- Provide a clear and fast contact method
- Post notes and lecture audio and video
- Give added directions for assignments
- Display student work with helpful feedback
- Link to external sources
- Communicate with students and parents via a forum or chatroom
Put your goals for your site on paper and develop a loose outline. By planning in advance, you’ll save substantial time when you’re ready to build the site. Remember to have fun with it. Students and parents are more likely to visit the site if it’s an enjoyable and useful experience.
2) Choose and use a website template.
There’s no shortage of website templates to help you get off the ground. Richard Byrne, of Free Technology for Teachers, has compiled an extensive list of the most popular teacher website template options.
Blogger is an excellent option if you want to build a straightforward blog with few additional features. Blogger is free to use and allows you to start posting content in just minutes. You can categorize your posts by date and topic to make them more easily searchable. You can also enhance your posts with pictures and video.
Students and parents can communicate with you via the blog’s comments section. You’ll have the ability manage comments and steer the conversation if you think it’s headed in the wrong direction.
Google also offers a free website development tool for educators. Google’s platform provides hundreds of design templates, so you can customize the site to meet you and your class’s style. You can also include features like forums, quizzes, video, photos, and online assignments.
One of the unique aspects of Google Sites is the ability to extend the program to your students. Rather than assigning papers, you can ask your students to build a mini-site based on the subject matter. For example, a geography project on state capitals could include each of your students picking a capital and building a mini-site dedicated to it.
Other popular teacher website templates include:
- Snap Pages
- Web Node
Most are free to use. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so check them out before settling on one.
3) Talk to your administration about a school-wide platform.
If enough teachers in your school are creating classroom websites, it may make sense for the school to adopt a universal platform that all faculty can use. The benefit of using a standard platform is that students can grow accustomed to using a classroom site in nearly every class they have. That will increase their participation and engagement.
The school can easily adopt a platform by using a content management system like the one Campus Suite provides. Campus Suite’s solution offers a comprehensive content publishing platform for the school so it can communicate with students, parents, and the community. It also offers the opportunity for teachers to build out their own sites quickly and with little technical knowledge or experience.
Whether your school uses a content management system or you take advantage of one of the free teacher website templates, building your classroom site isn’t has time-consuming and complex as you may think it is. Your students are accustomed to doing nearly everything online. By creating your own presence online, you’ll improve your chances of engaging with them and having the impact you desire.
Marketing director and content strategist for Campus Suite, Jay’s a former school public relations specialist who’s helped businesses, schools and colleges use the power of web communications to improve their image, generate support, and optimize relationships. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him @jay4schools.