This has to be a sequel to a previous post “Your School Doesn’t Need a Webmaster”. I was chatting with a principal who was bemoaning the workload, all the data to analyze, balancing budgets, school management issues, and now is feeling the pressure to start blogging.
I was thinking in the back of my mind this previous post and also words of advice that I got a long time ago about working smarter and not necessarily harder.
So, I asked – “Do you do a school newsletter?”
“How do you do it?”
“I grab little bits and pieces from here and there and put them together in a folder. I’ll get things in email or find them on the web and print them and put them in the folder. Then, come the end of the month, I cull the contents, fire up Microsoft Publisher and begin to assemble things into a newsletter. It requires a LOT of time and editing then you look for the clipart. When it’s done, I email it to the secretary who prints out copies – when there are more than one student in a family, we save paper by only giving it to the oldest child – and they take it home. We often have a contest for signed parental confirmation returned to the homeroom teacher. So, I do all this and now I need to blog too?”
Where do you begin to respond?
My advice was to scrap the concept of a newsletter altogether. Instead of assembling the bits and pieces at a later date, post them immediately to a school blog. Throw up a little content daily. Lose the folder. All of a sudden, the school web presence has a dynamic component. Grab your smartphone and take a picture of school activity – not of students if that’s a concern and post it immediately. Things are happening at your school. Forget the hassles of the layout of a formal newsletter – go for the gusto, in this case the content. And, it’s current content. No more missing timely things because the newsletter only comes out once a month. If you want your community to know immediately of posts, set up an RSS feed or post an announcement automatically via DLVR.IT. Remember the key is to work smarter and not necessarily harder.
But not every parent has a computer or internet access. Really? You heard this all the time but I wonder if anyone has ever taken the time or the effort to find out if this is actually true. And, if there are parents who prefer to have a paper copy, send your blog posts to the printer just for them. Think of the money that’s saved in time, toner, paper. At the end of the year, use something like Blogbooker to take your WordPress or Blogger or Livejournal and create an entire electronic book summarizing everything that was posted.
Once you get rolling, extend the authors. Invite students to create an entry about an assembly, a sporting event, a guest speaker, a class collaboration, you name it.
Want to run a contest with those who actually read the content? Create a Google Form and put a link in the blog for people to complete instead of signing and returning a piece of paper.
Worried about unfortunate replies? Set your blog to require your approval before replies appear or just deny replies all together.
Think it through and your newsletter may be nothing more than a fond memory.