- General Best Practices
Each month, thousands of people search for terms related to “faculty directory” on Google — with hundreds of those searches related to the faculty directories at specific schools and universities.
In addition to the sheer volume of searches related to school, district, and university directories — it’s interesting to note that the majority of these searches come from mostly Millennials and young Gen X-ers.
Data tells a story — and this segment of data drives home an important consideration for school and district websites: the faculty directory on your public-facing shouldn’t just be a place for faculty contact information, but a place to showcase your faculty and staff.
Showcasing your school or district’s faculty is more important now more than ever before — and is a vital component of your school’s Digital Campus. Although the physical classroom doors on campuses around the world are closed, the digital campus doors are open — and the faculty and staff are the same. At the end of the day, it isn’t the buildings, gardens and facilities that have the power to shape the minds of students — it’s the people.
What is the goal of a faculty directory?
Families are visiting your faculty directory for one of three reasons:
- They need to find contact information for a teacher or faculty member
- They want to learn more about who will be teaching, guiding, and working with their child
- They're considering working at your school and want to get a sense of who their colleagues will be
Your faculty directory should help website visitors achieve either or both of those goals during their visit to your digital campus.
Privacy and data considerations
If you use the Finalsite Platform, data can be displayed in a granular way — meaning you can use Constituent Manager to display different information on your public-facing website than you do in your password-protected portals or mobile app.
So, for example, if you want to keep faculty email and contact information private to current families, you could hide that information from your public-facing website and only make it accessible from the app.
What should a faculty directory include?
1. Photos and videos that authentically convey their personality
What do dozens of photos of faculty members smiling in front of the same backdrop say about your school? Not too much, unfortunately — although getting photos up is an achievement itself. While these staged, professional photos do often look very nice, in a virtual world, they don’t hold the same weight as something more “personal.”
Showcasing who is educating students at your school is essential — and real photos of faculty and staff “in their element” can bring this to life!
The easiest way to showcase the personalities of your faculty is to gather photos from them to For example, Charlotte Country Day School’s faculty directory is a beautiful combination of teachers in action in their professional and personal lives.
And in this example, we can easily see that the quality of the photo itself doesn’t really make a difference for Penn Charter School — every photo has a story regardless!
If you want to kick your faculty directory up a notch, you can definitely find some creative ways to do so (and we can help!) The Crane School, a K-8 school in Santa Barbara, showcases the personalities and expertise of their “staffulty” in their creative directory.
Depending on the size of your school, adding video might be an achievable option, too! Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart used Finalsite’s Resources Module to power a video directory for their Capital Campaign. The videos are short (under ten seconds!) and add an additional human connection that typically lacks in “directory” information.
2. A rich and engaging bio for each faculty member
While fun, colorful, and personal photos might capture the interest of families — a rich bio helps explain their expertise.
For each faculty member’s bio, incorporate compelling content like:
- Education background
- The year they joined your school
- Favorite part about distance/hybrid learning
- What they love about teaching
- What they love about your school
- Favorite motto/hobby/something fun!
Norfolk Academy in Virginia does a particularly good job with this. Click on any member within their faculty directory and you’re greeted by a personal photo with a wonderful write-up about the faculty member.
Chadwick School has an interactive faculty directory that puts the focus on how teachers teach. These questions and answers are great!
Pro Tip: Tackle this over the summer! This is a great project for schools and districts looking to improve their digital campus without a major overhaul. Using Forms Manager (or a data collection tool of your choice) gather new information about your faculty and staff from their perspective. You can use this content for your directory, website, social media, emails, and beyond!
3. An easy-to-filter interface
For prospective families particularly interested in who teaches in different departments, being able to easily sort and filter is essential. For public school districts in particular, this feature makes it easy for parents with children across multiple schools to easily sort and filter staff information.
Showcasing faculty outside of your directory
While improving the online faculty directory is the first place to start, the data shows shows that these important pages aren’t usually in the “top 10” most visited website pages. (Although, we definitely predict a change in light of COVID-19 and virtual/hybrid learning models.)
But, that begs the question: where else can schools and districts showcase faculty and staff to drive engagement and interest?
1. Share faculty spotlights on social media
If you’ve put in the effort to garner great content (both bios and photos) from your community for your faculty, you can repurpose that content in other areas — particularly social media. They are one of the three types of content proven to always garner engagement from your community.
You can repurpose a quote or information they gave you, or ask for something new such as their favorite experience while distance learning.
2. Get faculty involved in content curation
If your school has a blog or regularly updates its news, getting faculty involved in creating the content itself, or being interviewed for the content piece helps build their credibility and connection with the community.
For example, The Post Oak School has numerous blog contributors, from students to the Head of School. They spotlight the authors on each and every blog post to ensure readers can see wrote it.
Pro Tip: For faculty who don’t love writing, simply do a Q&A! You can host it via Zoom and upload the video, share the Q&A content transcription directly, or use the information gathered in the Q&A to write something yourself.
3. Infuse their wisdom and words throughout your website
From testimonials to videos, using the words and wisdom of your school or district’s faculty and staff throughout your site makes an impact. For example, you can add a section to your homepage for “faculty testimonials” or “faculty voices” as Derby Academy does.
But think about how you can go one step further on pages in your:
- Curriculum guide
- Athletics — such as “meet the coaches”
- Admissions section
- Academics section
- Annual fund or capital campaign page
Spotlighting key faculty — both in a directory format or other format, such as video or written testimonials — ensures that your families have numerous opportunities to “meet” your faculty.
For example, Leysin American School adds information about the school’s advisors to their “University Advising” page.
And, Latin School of Chicago showcases its Athletics Department in their Athletics website section.
4. Created a “featured faculty” website page
If your school or district has key teachers, administrators, and counselors that truly stand out — such as well-known authors, award-winners, or community leaders, creating a “featured faculty” page on your website offers a carefully curated showcase that is great to share with prospective families.
For example, Elgin Academy’s “Faculty Spotlight” page features interviews with a variety of faculty members.
(Their regular faculty and staff directory is pretty awesome too, featuring quotes from every single member of their community in addition to their contact information. Check out this page from their upper school directory.)
Similarly, Saddle River Day School’s Faculty Spotlight is a thoughtful collection of questions and answers from all different faculty members.
For Benchmark School, the “Why I Teach” dropdown accordions are filled with heartwarming stories from teachers to showcase the personal connections they make with students — so important as we consider hybrid and distance learning options in the future.
Showcasing the faculty and staff at your school or district has never been more important, as they are the ones who facilitate learning experiences whether on campus or online. Whether it is upgrading your faculty directory, showcasing them on social media, or getting them involved with content creation, the more you can expose families to the people at your school or district (virtually, of course!) the more likely they are to enroll.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's Director of Demand Generation, Mia shares innovative and helpful content that helps schools and districts create captivating online experiences that increase brand awareness, student and faculty retention, and school-to-home communications. With more than six years experience in the industry, Mia has written more than 200 articles, eBooks, and reports about best practices for schools on a variety of topics from social media to web design. As a former TV and news reporter, and wedding photographer, Mia specializes in sharing how to use storytelling to power your school's admissions funnel.
- Digital Campus