Sunday, September 1, 2013

3 Ways To Use Google Docs To Schedule Parent Conferences

I believe in efficiency and collaboration. One way to achieve this during parent conference time is to use Google Docs.

1.  One year I created a Google spreadsheet and shared it with my school secretary.  Parents were told to email me or call the school to schedule a time to meet and discuss their students progress. This way parents could plan a time to meet with me even when I was busy in class. Having one, shared spreadsheet allowed both the secretary and myself to have the most updated schedule always available and eliminated the accidental double booking of time slots. Here is a link to my Conference Spreadsheet.

2.  The second way to schedule parent conferences is to create a Google Doc, go to sharing and set visibility so that anyone with a link can edit it. Then send the link to parents and let them sign up in available time slots. A benefit to this is that it eliminates the middle man and allows a parents to view available times and schedule when it is convenient for them.  Also, if parents need to reschedule, they can easily go back to the doc and move their name to another available time slot.  For parents who can't access the doc, they can still call or email and have the teacher or secretary add them to the doc.

This idea came from super-teacher, Matt Gomez who uses this method with his kindergartner's parents. You can see his step by step instructions on his blog post: Using Google Docs for Setting Up Conferences with Parents.  So, what happens if someone gets mischievous and deletes another parent's appointment? Thanks to the Revision History feature in Google Docs, even if a parent accidentally deletes another parents appointment, you can see when the edit occurred and restore it.

3.  I took the shared Google Doc idea a step further and added a form for parents to submit their contact information. It always seems that the contact information in our student information system is not accurate, so having current contact info for students is critical, especially around parent conference time. I added a link to the form at the bottom of the shared Fall Conference Schedule so I can collect information such as the student name, parent name, email address, phone number and whether I can text them at that number.  Here is a link to my Fall Conference Schedule and Parent Contact Form which you can use a template. To use the Contact Form - click the link, go to File--> Make a copy. When you open your new copy you will see a spreadsheet where form responses will be collected. To edit the form click Form --> Edit Form.
To share the form click Form --> Go to live form. This is the link you share with parents. 

My two step process for letting parents
drive the conference schedule

My Google Form for collecting current parent contact information at parent conference time.