Does your school newsletter need a makeover?
Ours did! When I began working at my school, the Wolf Weekly was a PDF document sent out once a week by administrators to all staff members. The purpose was to cut down on the amount of email sent out to staff each week by compiling news and announcements into one weekly blast that teachers could skim and scan for information that was important to them. There were several problems with the Wolf Weekly that may or may not also be a problem with your newsletter:
1. The assistant principal was the publisher. Well, when life got busy, guess what went to the bottom of the priority list? Yep! The newsletter.
2. There was no rhyme or reason to the content. It was neither sorted alphabetically or in any order of importance. People had to literally scan page after page to make sure they weren’t missing anything.
3. The Wolf Weekly was boring. Sure, it relayed information, but it was not visually appealing.
I had a few ideas for how to make the publication better, so I offered to take over the weekly newsletter, and my assistant principal handed it over! Here is how the “new and improved” Wolf Weekly is put together:
I created a free site at weebly.com and chose a look and feel that matched our school’s colors and mascot. Weebly has dozens of free, built-in themes that you can customize with your own pictures.
I divided the news into tabs: Must Reads, Wolf Successes, Sports, Professional Development, etc and then sorted the announcements appropriately. Weebly allows me to hide, add, and delete tabs easily, so I can customize them each week.
One page of the Weekly is reserved for an embedded Google Calendar, maintained by our school secretary, to remind staff of upcoming events.
One tab of the Weekly is an archive, where I can place “old news” each week to make room for the new stuff. Because teachers could no longer save a PDF version of the news, we felt it was important to keep an archive for them.
Besides news stories, I am able to embed photo slide shows and videos into the newsletter, making it more visually appealing and allowing teachers, teams, and club sponsors to highlight what they are doing with kids.
People often send me flyers to announce their events. Instead of just typing up the text, I can insert the flyer as an image into the Weebly. Weebly also allows me to link documents, so when administrators need to send out important forms, it is easy to attach them just below a news story.
On the professional development tab, I have embedded my Paper.li account, which people can browse for headlines that may appeal to them as well as flyers and links to free PD in our area.
Overall, switching our Wolf Weekly from a PDF to a Weebly has been awesome experience. People are very responsive to it. They enjoy the news being divided into tabs, so they can spend their time reading in areas that make sense to them. Teachers have also become eager to share what they are doing with students in their classroom. Each week I receive several videos, projects, pictures, and write-ups of activities people are proud of. In a building with 9 different departments and 150 certified staff members, this means for sharing instructional ideas works well. I would encourage you to rethink your newsletters – whether they are for staff or parents. How much more dynamic would your news be if you included video, audio, photos, links, feeds, and more?