Teachers in my building wanted an easy, high-impact way to send positive notes home to parents. I designed and sourced a custom postcard to add this tool to teachers toolbelts. I also saved my school a considerable amount of money over buying this product off the shelf.

Setting

Last spring I ran a professional development day at my school. I had recently read Daniel Pink’s book Drive and came across the idea of a FedEx Day. Watch this video to learn more about FedEx day from the company that invented the concept:

This post is not about our FedEx day but about what one of the teams came up with and how I made their idea a reality.

Problem

Teachers need a simple non-intrusive way to send positive accolades to parents about students. Phone calls are too high pressure and emails are too low impact, so we need something in between.

Ideation

One of the teachers in this group talked about some postcards the school had some years ago that were left behind by a random vendor. They were generic postcards that said “Good News from School” on a chalkboard background, but they fit this communication niche. A teacher can send 5 postcards in 10 or 15 minutes (easy), and parents get a physical piece of mail (high impact).

Prototyping

I looked around for these “Good News” postcards online and found several, but they were generic and cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $0.36 per postcard. With 1600 students in our school this price did not seem sustainable, so I looked into printing our own. I called up my favorite local printer and talked through some options. We agreed upon specifications that would deliver us custom 4×6 inch color postcards for $0.08 per card!

In two semesters, we have ordered two batches of 1000 cards, and they have been very well received by parents, students, and teachers alike. Just yesterday I doubled down on our postcard program and ordered 10,000 more postcards, so far we have saved $3,360 on this project! All the while using a local business to produce custom cards and deliver to us for free.

Iteration 

The design constraints provided by the printer and our school’s brand standards make the design straightforward. Montserrat font in Bel Air Blue and the school shield. I opened up Adobe Illustrator and whipped this design up in 5 minutes:

I shared this design with one of my coworkers, and he knew what it would look like before I showed him (we work together a lot). He suggested I add some color to it to reflect the fun/celebration the card represents. We came up with the idea for confetti on the front of the card, but I had no idea how to do that in illustrator. Luckily, I found this tutorial, and I was quickly given the skills to make the better version of the Good News postcard.

After playing with all the different scatter brush options, adding an outline to the text, and making different layers for each color, I was able to make this version of the card.

Conclusion

In two semesters, we have ordered two batches of 1000 cards, and they have been very well received by parents, students, and teachers alike. Just yesterday I doubled down on our postcard program and ordered 10,000 more postcards, so far we have saved $3,360 on this project! All the while using a local business to produce custom cards and deliver to us for free.

I had fun bringing this idea to fruition for my school. These postcards are a tool that we can use for years to come. They not only make it easier for teachers to give praise to kids, but they also let parents know about it. I also got to learn a new technology technique. I can’t imagine a better use of my time!

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