A Teacher’s Persective: How to Use a Website to Communicate with Your Students and Parents

As a part of Back to School Month here at OurChurch.Com, I thought it would be helpful to bring you some thoughts from people who have experience with school and class websites.  The first person that came to mind is my favorite teacher of all time.  She’s been teaching second grade at Immanuel Lutheran School in Brandon, Florida for 20 years (30 years teaching overall) and has managed a website for her class for several years.  So, I gave her a call, and fortunately my mother, Judy Steinbrueck, came through for me and agreed to an interview.

I think you’ll find the interview insightful.  If nothing else, the little nugget about how she has gotten her parents to read the online newsletter each week is gold.  That alone is worth the read, and the principle can be applied to other, non-education websites.

How important do you think it is for a teacher to use the web to communicate with parents and students?

  • It’s absolutely essential. Every class should have one. (57%)
  • It’s extremely beneficial, but teachers, parents, and students can still get by without one. (29%)
  • It’s a nice extra if the teacher is motivated to do it, but not that important. (14%)
  • It’s not important, there are better ways to communicate. (0%)
  • It’s a total waste of time. (0%)

Total Votes: 7
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Paul Steinbrueck: How long have you had a website for your second grade class?

Judy Steinbrueck: About 5 years.

PS: Could you describe the purpose of the site and what’s on it?

JS: The main purpose is to communicate with my parents and students.  It’s updated weekly with lesson plans and homework.  It has a newsletter every week.  Bible verses for the year are up there.  Vocabulary, spelling words, and links to other useful sites for them to go to.

PS: What was your motivation for starting the website?

JS: I wanted to have information available to parents without them having to call me.  Not that I don’t want to talk to them, but for when students lose papers – their bible verse, spelling words.  Plus I wanted to provide other resources, like places to practice math flash cards.

PS: Prior to creating this website what experience did you have with computers or websites.

JS: Not much.  I just figured if it was easy I would try it.

PS: What’s the response been like from your parents?

JS: They love it!  They absolutely love it!  Parents often tell me they hope the 3rd grade teacher does the same thing.  It’s really helped to get the other teachers to create their own websites.

PS: What percent of parents visit the site on a regular basis?

JS: It’s grown every year.  Last year it was 100%.  Even those who don’t have access at home check the site at work.  Now I do provide a little incentive.  I send them an email every week that says “Let me know when you’ve check the plans for next week and I’ll give your child a coupon for the ‘superstore,’” which has little toys and games the kids like.

PS: That’s a great idea!

JS: Yeah, it really works.  The kids make sure the parents check the site because they want the coupon.

PS: I know your school [Immanuel Lutheran School in Brandon, FL] has a website.  Does it not give you the capability to keep pages for your own class?

JS: Apparently not, but I do link to the school site and the school site links to the class sites during the school year.  Several other teachers have sites for their classes, some with OurChurch.Com some with other school website services.

PS: Is there anything new you plan to add to your site or anything you’d like to add?

JS: I just add new things as things come to mind.  The vocabulary words were something I added last year.  It’s come a long way.  It started much simpler than it is now.

PS: Do you have any advice for teachers who might be interested in creating a website for their class?

JS: I would recommend every teacher have one.  It’s not hard to do.  But if you’re going to do it, you have to keep it up to date.

PS: Yeah, you just have to commit to doing it.

JS: Yes, if you want it to be useful to your kids and their families that’s important.  The other thing is that most parents who are looking for a school look on the web, so that’s another important reason to have it up to date, plus have interesting information, and have it organized well.

PS: That’s great advice.  Thank you very much for your time, and keep up the good work.

Please post your comments about this interview below, and join us in the forums for our discussion about school websites.

If you found this article interesting or helpful, please vote for it on Blogs4God so others will see it.

About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.


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