Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Marketing Your Classroom: For Teachers

I have a new mission! I have recently become passionate about sharing the amazing things that are happening inside classrooms in my school, in my children's classrooms, and in the school I work in. The media does not see education in a positive light right now. We, as teachers, have the power to change the way teachers and education are being discussed! Simple tools like Animoto.com, Youtube and Thinglink.com can really help you market your classroom to the community.

Recently, my littlest cheeky monkey (4) started daycare. Each day, I get a picture (or three), a
little description of the lessons she participated in, what they ate for lunch, and where she played, read and whether or not she napped! I can't help but feel that I know what is going on in the classroom academically, but also, I get a feel for her experiences too. I also have direct knowledge of what happened, so at dinner time, I can initiate a conversation about her day and get more than "Nothing Mum" when I ask, "What did you do today in school?"
Because we have pictures of happy kids sent home every day, I have very positive feelings about my child's school.

I am not so naive as to think that teachers could spend that kind of time daily sharing about each student with their parents! That would be not time well spent! But, what about taking a picture of the students as they gather around the rug? Or working in the library? Or, using the iPads for research? Or working in groups? Spending time discussing a recent novel? Debating a news issue? Then, adding a simple tag line or short description of what is happening! A picture is worth a thousand words right?
Why not send home those images each week through email to parents?
Why not assign a new classroom job or two to students? Maybe a reporter? Or photographer can help you create the images to market your room?

I don't think a newsletter has the same power as a video. And, we teachers have all spent a lot of time creating those, haven't we?

Last year, in my school, I started a student club that was in charge of communicating with the students and community all the amazing things that are going in school. Students take the pictures, shoot the video, interview the students and teachers, then compile them into a 2-4 minute broadcast.
Sample SMSNews Broadcast
We sometimes edit the movies, or simply add the images into Animoto.com. This tool is so slick and easy to use. People will think you are a tech wizard, and it takes minutes to upload and share a ridiculously amazing video. (SMSNews)
The parent response to this email has been phenomenal, and the students love creating it and watching it each week in homeroom. What a great way to share the AMAZING things that happen each day in a school, right?

Or, what about sending a Thinglink interactive image. http://www.thinglink.com allows you to add hot spots on any image like text, links or even other images. This could be a great two or three minute way to market your classroom too!

The tools don't really matter. The images you send home do!
Of course, be sure to ask for parent permission to use student images online. I don't recommend putting student names under images either! Also, put your group emails addresses into the blind copy box so that the parents' emails remain private from one another, and remember to keep the descriptions or text upbeat, and positive!

You have the power to change the style of communication in your classroom.  An animated dinner conversation about a great day at school goes a long way to changing the way parents feel about their child's education too!

A picture is worth a thousand words.

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