Wish List for Schools

Today I’m reading discussion posts in one of the courses I co-developed. I was reminded of some of my pet peeves — things that I really wish schools had the time, talent, resources, and determination to change. Perhaps some schools already do. Perhaps others don’t know they can. Perhaps some schools are simply so overwhelmed with more urgent responsibilities that they just cannot get to it. This is where I think larger organizations and larger funding sources can sometimes help. So here is my wish list to remind myself of what I think we still need to do to help our schools to accomplish.

SCHOOL WEBSITES

  • Every flyer or bulletin that goes home to parents should be posted to an easy to find page on the school website.
  • Make sure the home page has all necessary contact information (school name, mailing address, main phone, fax).
  • School websites should have links back to the district website and the SAU website. In other words, it should be easy to identify what district and what SAU the school belongs to. (In NH, every school and district is part of a School Administrative Unit.)
  • SAU, district, and school websites should all make it easy for parents to know the email addresses of their kids’ teachers. I do not mean that all email addresses should be hyperlinked to make it easy for spammers to do their dirty work. I mean schools should post the email PROTOCOL used by their email server. For example, if you use first initial and last name followed by the @ sign and then the school domain, I should be able to read this description of how email addresses are constructed at your school. This will help me to know how I can email my kid’s teacher when I cannot find that beginning of school paper that arrived on the kitchen table months ago and is since lost in some pile in the next room.
  • School board member names and minutes of all school board minutes should be posted to a school board page on the site. Upcoming meeting dates should also be posted. In fact, the minutes of past meetings can be linked from the meeting dates page.
  • EVERY TEACHER should have an up-to-date classroom page with information about this week’s homework, classwork, interesting activities, etc. School webmasters should be fined (or something like that to indicate the seriousness of this matter) if they cannot find a way to make it easy for teachers to post their own classroom information. There are so very many easy web tools out there nowadays.
  • Schools should have web page standards to ensure that some consistency and sound formatting principles are used by all who post to the school website. For example, no one should be posting a web page with spaces in between the HTML file name. Why? Here’s an example. The file name “Cathys Blog Page” would appear in the web browser address window as something like: “http://yourdomainname.k12.org/Cathys%20Blog%20Page.html”
  • No page should stand alone without links back to the site’s home page. Every page should have links to the school home page.
  • Remember to add photos and other visual aids. It helps the reader. (Of course I hope my readers will forgive this long list with text only…)

INTERNET SAFETY

  • We have much work to do to help students, teachers, parents, and the community understand the massive societal changes which the Internet presents. Kids are using web resources in ways we don’t understand and sometimes in ways we would not approve. There are lots of resources ou there. This is an ongoing matter, not something that can be taught in a 45 minute period or an annual evening parent meeting and then forgotten for another year.
  • School internet use policies must be reviewed an updated periodically.

GIVE THEM THE TOOLS

  • Teachers need regular access to digital tools and ongoing support in learning how to make the best use of them for instruction.
  • Students need regular access to digital tools because their world outside of school is filled with them. We must help them use the tools wisely and effectively, not just for fun.

MORE ITEMS to COME…

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