Turn Your Weekly Instructional Coaching Newsletters into Creative Classroom Coaching Conversations
In this post, we will take a look at the Weekly Email Newsletter and how Instructional Coaches can use them effectively to not only communicate with their colleagues but create several weeks of ongoing professional learning for their entire school districts. If you are a Tech Coach and are interested in learning more, please visit www.AskTheTechCoach.com and follow us online @AskTheTechCoach.
If you are a Tech Coach, you are probably someone who is constantly searching the internet for the latest news and updates on your favorite educational technology apps. In fact, you may just be the one during lunch each day who has to remind yourself NOT to talk about your day to your colleagues' using hashtags. (Am I close to being accurate?)
One of the most important things that we can do as Instructional Coaches is to share our love for educational technology and digital learning in a way that invites and encourages others to relax from their comfort zone and give new tech tools a try.
- How do you do it?
- Where do you start?
One of the first things you should do when starting the year off is to make a decision on which Email Newsletter application you will be using to communicate with your teachers.
Are All Weekly Email Newsletters Created Equally?
There are several types of Email Newsletter applications available to Instructional Coaches:
- Some describe themselves as “apps that create newsletters.”
- Some curate content for easy sharing and posting.
- Some provide the option of acting both as a newsletter and presentation tool.
No matter what option you select, it's not about the app, nor the content that you should be thinking about when creating your weekly newsletter. What is most important is how easy it is for your teachers to click on something … quickly glance over it and perhaps find one or two golden tickets that they can take with them or reach out to you about over the next few days that will make it an ultimate winning choice for you and your tech program.
In this post we will be looking at Email Newsletters and Email Marketing by asking the following questions:
- Why should you create a weekly email newsletter?
- What can a weekly email newsletter do for a Coach?
- What can a weekly email newsletter do for an Instructional Technology Program?
- What should you include in your weekly email newsletter?
- What apps are perfect for your email newsletters?
- Should Coaches think about their newsletters as email marketing?
Do you have a favorite application for your newsletter? Please leave a comment and perhaps a link to your content below. We would love to curate what everyone is creating this year.
Why Should You Create Weekly Email Newsletters?
To Attract More Teachers to Your Brand
If you are one of the many Tech Coaches that are tasked with supporting multiple buildings, you know that your brand is everything. You need to be thought of as someone to turn to for professional support both when you are in and out of the classroom. Try as you might to be everyone all the time and to be everything to everyone, it's just near impossible. This is where your email newsletter comes in handy.
By creating a weekly newsletter you keep yourself and your brand in the inboxes of all of your teachers. You are the Jiminy Cricket of EdTech each week. When you walk into a school for the first time in a few days, your teachers might have questions for you based on things they read in your email. This is something that you can always use to your advantage in both helping teachers you have a good rapport with and teachers you might not have the opportunity to get to know personally.
To Showcase New Additions To Your Favorite Apps
One of the easiest things you can do each week is to use one of the apps mentioned below to curate all of the news and updates each week. These are easy filler content for your newsletters. Do you have teachers in your school who are all using a fantastic app such as Wakelet? If so, you should make sure you are following the Wakelet blog so you can share news and updates and be able to walk into their classrooms ready to dazzle them with what the new hot features are.
To Promote Teacher & Student Success In The Classroom
Lastly, your newsletter could be, and more importantly, should be a place to showcase what is happening in the classrooms. A good Instructional Coach weekly email newsletter has some type of section dedicated to what is happening in the classroom. If you want to take this a step further, ask the teachers permission to post an abbreviated version of their lesson or tech template in the newsletter for others to download. The “teacher feature” section is something that is not only good for Newsletter sidebars but also a great way to promote content by grade level or subject area. If you take something that a science teacher has done … see what you can do to manipulate that lesson in a way for other subjects and grade levels to take advantage of and then use that new content to push into additional classrooms during the week.If you are enjoying this blog post, please click on the button and share this with your PLN today!Click To Tweet
What Can A Weekly Email Newsletter Do For A Coach?
Improve Teacher Interactions And Comfortability
When an email newsletter is created with not just the content in mind, but also the implementation of the provided activities, they can be very useful for classroom teachers. For many teachers, newsletters are read through and either saved or tossed so you have a 50/50 chance of user retention. However, after working as a tech coach over the last few years, I have noticed a trend of teachers reading through Coaching newsletters and saving them for later use.
One of the things that should be kept in mind when creating your newsletter is your email subject and what text is used in the newsletter. Often these keywords are what your teachers search for weeks if not months after you send them the newsletter. If you “think in search” when creating your correspondences it might actually be helpful to someone down the road.
How many times has a teacher come to you and said that they were looking through some old newsletters and thought to reach out with a question???
Develop Your Instructional Technology Curriculum
One of the things that your newsletter should be used for is to develop a drip campaign for your professional development content. If you just completed a big PD day in your school then you now have a few weeks worth of opportunities to follow up with your teachers on that content to distribute additional resources, templates, or examples of student work.
What Should You Include In Your Weekly Newsletter?
Message From Administration
Traditionally the Tech Coach weekly email newsletter is just that. It's a weekly email that is created by the Coach and sent to the teachers. However, what if …..
What if each week, or even perhaps each month there was a short paragraph from your building/district administrator that features something positive about the district. How would it look if each week your principal did a short 30-second video praising a teacher or grade level inviting other teachers to join in and take part in the digital revolution?
In writing this, I can already hear you saying NOOOOO but … all I'm saying here is… “What if …?”
One of the staples of every Tech Coach newsletter should be some type of video tutorial. While there is always a debate on if these videos should be created by the Tech Coach or if they should be grabbed from YouTube, what is important is the understanding that videos help to add value to the newsletter.
My goal when creating newsletters is to put as much personal content as possible. This way the teachers see that YOU are the one putting in the time in their learning and YOU are the voice that is helping them out. While there are several great YouTube channels to get your videos from such as Teachers.Tech, Flipped Classroom Tutorials, and of course TeacherCast, no video tutorial will ever come close to something that you put together based on your own teachers' classrooms.
New App Of The Week
This is a tricky one to include in your newsletter. Generally, you have two different types of teachers … the ones that will read your email newsletters and learn something from them, or the ones that don't read due to lack of time, interest, or frustration with technology in general.
As Tech Coaches, we are generally on the cutting edge of what is new and amazing but one wrong move with this excitement and you might end up in hot water. Just remember that many school districts aren't able to move at the speed of Twitter Chats. If a new application opens up today and you wish to use it in your class tomorrow you might have to first ask for permission from your district administration. You should always be proactive about new technologies but at the same time, you shouldn't ever be promoting something that isn't district-approved.
Free Templates For All Grades and Subject Areas
One of my favorite apps is Google Slides. I make just about all of my templates in Google Slides because it's an easy application to master and can do so many different things. In order to maximize value in your email newsletters, you should aim to create at least one new template each month that is accompanied by a blog post or video tutorial showing how to download the template and use it in a variety of ways.
Check out my FREE Templates Today!
- Google Calendar Bulk Event Importer
- Podcasting Editorial Calendar
- Google Search Cheat Sheet for Drive & Gmail
- Tri-Fold Brochure Template (our most popular)
What Apps Are Perfect For Tech Coach Newsletters?
One of my favorite platforms for creating and sharing lesson plans is SMORE. SMORE offers a freemium pricing model and allows teachers to create pretty amazing looking infographics, online posters, and newsletters. The designs are easy on the eye and each SMORE is completely responsive which means that it looks great on a desktop or mobile device. If you are looking to share your SMORE with your school, it's extremely easy to import a CSV file to make sure that all of your contacts are notified.
Here are some examples of how I have used SMORE to showcase lessons and other educational activities.
Check out our recent podcast featuring SMORE.
Have you ever thought about creating a website and using THAT simply as your newsletter? If the answer to this is YES then your not alone. Many Tech Coaches are turning to Google Sites as their newsletter option of choice. Through Google Sites, you can create a beautiful newsletter that can serve as either a landing page for additional content or a series of informational blocks from which you are sharing your content with your teachers.
By using Google Sites as both the home for your content and your newsletter landing page you save yourself the added step of creating content AND formatting an additional email program. All you need to do is copy your published link and send it off in a Gmail message and BAM you are done!
If you are looking to learn more about creating simple yet elegant websites using Google Sites, please check out our Educational Web Design section today!
Canva is one of those apps that I am proud to say that I am a paid subscriber. It's my app of choice for just about all of the images and graphics on TeacherCast. It has made this website look much better than I could ever make it look on my own. Like other applications on this list, Canva offers a Freemium pricing model. Trust me… Its paid features by far outweigh its free features which is why I decided to become a subscriber. However, you can certainly do a ton with it on the free version.
Creating a newsletter in Canva is super easy and barely an inconvenience. Simply select a template, add your information and click the publish button. Canva offers the opportunity to either download your project as a PDF or image file but the true power of Canva is the ability for you to embed graphics into your website directly OR create full websites from your projects.
Are you looking to double up on all of the time you spend creating weekly PR Presentations? IMO, Google Slides is one of the most underrated apps on the G-Suite roster. Many people, even to this day think of Google Slides as “The PowerPoint of Google Apps” which is just silly these days. With thousands of teachers and Tech Coaches sharing their Google Slides Hacks, all you have to do is click on the File button and select Page Setup to turn your 4:3 or 16:9 into a beautiful 8.5/11 design that you can not only share with your teachers or send to Google Classroom, but also present from at your next department meeting.
Are you looking for a fun way to create a weekly newsletter out of Google Slides? Check out our popular Tri-Fold brochure template that can easily help you share both written and video content to your staff today!Are you a riding the #WakeletWave today? Click Here To Tweet This Post To Your PLN! #SharingIsCaringClick To Tweet
Do you have very little time to think about weekly newsletters? Would you like to find a simple solution where you can curate tutorials, videos, and blog posts and simply hit the share button? Look no further than Wakelet, one of the cleanest, most easy-to-use curation tools that I have ever used.
Through Wakelet you can easily curate and organize web content from a variety of sources using both their simple-to-use web interface, Chrome Extension, or mobile phone. I signed up for a free (and always free) account using my Gmail and quickly created a Collection of my Tech Coaching resources. If you aren't riding the #WakeletWave yet you should jump on it and use it to save yourself valuable time each week when communicating with your teachers.
If you take a SMORE and add some additional design features to it you might only start to understand the beautiful newsletter application that is Microsoft SWAY. Much like Google Slides, SWAY (in my opinion) doesn't nearly get the love that it deserves.
Using Microsoft SWAY, you can easily turn your digital documents into dynamic websites for sharing and emailing to your teachers. It also makes a great presentation tool that you can stand in front of and share information with your teachers.
Last but not least is email. Yes, it's true that for many Tech Coaches, hours each week are spent creating beautiful-looking newsletters that simply aren't read or given any thought by our teachers. Where all of the apps above are great in their own rights, nothing beats the time saved by sitting down to write a 3 (short) paragraph email to your teachers with a few links to websites that you didn't even write yourself to show off what is new and exciting. The chances are … you will have the same percentage of interaction while saving a ton of time each week.
Email Newsletter Bonus Tip: Create A Weekly Call To Action
Encourage Social Sharing Of Projects
One of the things that you should consider adding to your weekly email newsletters is a Call to Action. This could come in the form of “please share” or “send me copies of what you are doing so I can share” and go a long way in creating not just a weekly email chain but a culture of staff supporting staff.
Establish Your Hashtag
Does your school have a Social Media presence? What if you created a special hashtag that focused on student achievement and activities during the school day? This could then be something that teachers are encouraged to post to each week with various photos, projects, and other digital encouragement.
One of the things that I have been thinking about over the last few years of being a Tech Coach is … “Why shouldn't Tech Coaches use the power of email marketing to their advantage?” We all are out there every day selling ourselves and creating a branded product that we are hoping our teachers decide to invest in. It takes a ton of time each week to research, curate, and distribute a quality newsletter. Why not figure out a way to do things even more efficient?
Why Is Email Automation Important For Tech Coaches?
When it comes to email marketing the name of the game is efficiency and automation. There is no better email marketing platform for content creators than ConvertKit. I have been using ConvertKit for all of my TeacherCast newsletters for the last 2 years and it has not only saved me hundreds of hours.
One of the things I love the most about ConvertKit is how easy it is to create great-looking forms (see below) that bring your audience into a funnel system supported by email sequences.
How can Tech Coaches use this feature?
Let's say that a teacher is interested in learning more about Google Sheets … you might have an email sequence all set up with a set amount of email newsletters. Once a teacher visits your Tech Coach website, they can sign up for additional information, and BAM! You are now helping out that teacher without you even being in the room. It sounds so easy … should we all be thinking about email funnels in our Tech Coaching positions?
What Are Your Favorite Newsletter Applications?
Tech Coaches have a TON of great applications and content available to share with their teachers. The struggle that we all face is finding the right applications at the right time in the right format for teachers to get them interested and excited about learning new things.
We hope you are enjoying this series of Email Marketing for Tech Coaches. We would love to learn a bit more about you and your Tech Coaching and invite you to share your favorite applications with us. Please take a moment and share your thoughts on email marketing below in our comments section.
For more information on Tech Coaching, please visit www.AskTheTechCoach.com or listen to our Ask The Tech Coach Podcast Today!
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