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Author: Randy Vaughn
When prospective families are looking for a school, they will no doubt look at your school’s website and likely take a tour of your hallways. They may examine the artwork on the walls, scroll past the too-often-staged photographs on your site, and peruse the extracurricular offerings and ultimately the price tag. Moms will inquire about the student-teacher ratio. Dads may dig deeper into your teachers’ professional development to ensure your school is providing growth opportunities for those who will be instructing their children.
Your faculty and staff represent the face of your school. They are the frontline customer service professionals. As well, they are the people your alumni speak about when they tell about their life-changing upbringing at your school. Parents may be impressed with brand new facilities and glossy admission materials, but the stories of your teachers, office staff, administrators and extracurricular leaders are what they really want to know. When a young mother first glances at your website, what will she learn about the people whom she will soon trust to care for her “baby girl”? The middle school Dad may ask questions at a preview event about the winning or losing records of the coach for the boys’ basketball team. Upper school students may even try and find a Twitter handle or Instagram account for the band director or football coach so they can “investigate” what kind of people they really are. Passionate parents are often eager to know a teacher’s pedagogical principles.
So how can you satisfy these inquiring minds with the information and inspiration that will turn their heads toward enrolling in your school? Here are 5 things you should feature on your school’s website faculty pages, in your admission materials and on the wall near every staff member’s door:
- EDUCATION – Both prospective and current families feel an instant connection if they find out a teacher attended the same undergraduate school as they did. Posting the level of education is not only important because of the university’s prestigious name, but it is also informative for families to know if their child would be sitting at the feet of someone with a Master’s level degree in their field vs. an undergraduate degree. As it relates to the next item, if the information posted showcases whether or not the teacher is teaching in her degreed field of study, this can provide an extra cushion of calmness to an anxious parent.
- EXPERIENCE – Showcasing the teacher’s storied career is more than just pinning their C.V. to the wall. Longevity at the present school tells a profound story of the teacher’s enthusiasm for where he/she is employed. Even noting how many years the teacher has taught Kindergarten or coached the girls’ volleyball team communicates strength to families who value longevity. While you may wish to diminish this for brand new teachers, do not hesitate to tell the story of a new teacher who has been at a previous school. During an Open House or campus tour, this provides an opportunity for teachers to tell families why they chose to teach at your school.
- EXPERTISE – Professional development opportunities present your teachers many chances to grow in certain skill sets and areas of expertise. You may have teachers or staff who have gone to great lengths in the summer months to write, research or run a program in their area of expertise. Adding this element to their faculty story pages gives your teachers the platform to showcase their hard work and their passion to go the extra mile for the school. Families are unimpressed with individuals who do the minimum in the classroom. They are inspired by staff who show an enthusiasm for growth and learning. Parents are enamored by teachers who weave their personal passions into the classroom.
- EVALUATION – Families want to know how their child will be tested and evaluated. Allow the teacher to explain his/her method of evaluating the student’s grades, behavior and leadership abilities. In addition, the school may have evaluated the teacher’s performance and this could be worth posting. If a current parent makes a specific positive reference to a teacher or staff member in their online review, why not allow that teacher’s story page on the website to show that? This is the brag board that you can offer prospective families (and current ones, too) as a glimpse into the kudos each staff member receives. Wouldn’t you like to put your child in the classroom of an individual that won “Teacher of the Year” last year?
- EMOTION – Because information is not enough, inspiration makes the emotional connection between the staff member and the family or student. Where appropriate and certainly according to each teacher or coach’s comfort level with privacy, staff members are encouraged to include personal connecting points on their printed or published online profile. Include family status, hobbies, pets, favorite inspirational quote/Scripture, preferred flavor of ice cream, favorite sports team, etc. This endears prospective families to a school in a way that a billboard or brochure could never do. As well, parents may learn ways to appreciate the teacher throughout the year with special gifts tailored to their preferences. Perhaps even include a reference to the teacher’s DISC profile or Myers-Briggs type may lend insight into how a teacher communicates and runs the classroom. Current families may really find this helpful if their child were to have a confrontation with the teacher during the year (knowing the teacher’s communication style helps the child communicate differently). Finally, what would be more disarming for a frustrated young student than knowing that they share with their teacher a love for mint chocolate chip ice cream or a fanatic passion for the Dallas Cowboys?
Your teachers, coaches, operations staff, administrators and front-office personnel all are the faces of your school. As students walk your halls, the relationships they make with staff members can make a difference in whether or not that student returns the next year. For prospective parents looking for a school, they want to know about the key players teaching and influencing their child 5 days out of every week for almost 9 months of the year.
How are you showcasing evidence that you have the best staff?
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