One of the most beneficial, and popular, uses of G Suite among school leaders is leveraging Forms and Sheets in order to move to a paperless office. This can include building paperless referral systems, check in/out systems, and streamlining communication. Embedded above is a Slidedeck that highlights how you can create your own referral system, or paperless system, using G Suite for Education. In addition to the Slidedeck itself, I also wanted to provide a few points to go along with the presentation.
Defining the System
There are essentially two parts to the ground work in preparing to move your system to a paperless system. First of all, you have to have a solid definition of the system and the purpose the electronic service will serve. For the example that I have, we had to first do work in regards to defining discipline for our school. When I first implemented our current system at our school, we began with taking time to line out what discipline is for our school. Meaning, we had to develop our own common language or understandings of how discipline and behaviors are translated in our school. This is an important step because a philosophy and common understanding has to be established first before any meaningful progress can be made.
Build the System
After you have laid the ground work, then it is time to construct your paperless system. Important considerations are making sure that your common language and understandings from your definition phase have to be reflected in your new system. Then once you also have to determine how do the key players fit into the system? If you are building an automated system for referrals, you need to make determinations as to who will be notified without your organization. Using the Sheets Add-on Formmule will help you accomplish this very easily.
One of my favorite apps at the moment is Google Keep. The beauty to Keep that is is a easy tool to use but contains powerful possibilities. Keep is a collaborative note taking tool that serves purposes inside and outside of school. What makes Keep different from other note taking services is the sharing feature that allows you to make collaborative lists between co-workers or even family members. If nothing else, Keep has revolutionized how families are making shopping lists as you can update items in real time, but there are other features that are useful as well for school purposes.
Keep is a good way to make notes during conferences or workshops about ideas or tools that may come from meetings.
It can also be used for gallery works with students, team members, or staff members. In the example above, this is a gallery walk that was completed from a professional development session earlier this school year. Math teachers in my building completed a force field analysis, along with other teachers throughout the district, about how we can improve our curriculum at each grade level and identify potential barriers.
The phrase Response to Intervention (RTI) can often cause an educator to respond in a negative way. The RTI process is typically associated with large committees, marathon meetings, and no real product at the end. In my role as an administrator, I wanted to look at ways that we could avoid being a typical committee and make our team more efficient.
Who Needs to be There?
The first thing that we established our team and what purpose it would serve the school. We noticed that there was some room to trim down the amount of committees that we had at our school by incorporating them into one. We realized that our RTI committee and our discipline committees were handling many of the same issues so we decided to combine the two and rename it out Student Success Team (SST). The goal of SST was to not only focus on student needs but also indirectly address some of our school discipline issues by incorporating initiatives that would improve school wide culture by focusing on targeted behavioral goals each quarter and the use of school wide celebrations. This team became a central part of our staff in helping support students throughout our school. The next step was how to establish who would be involved. For our school we have 6 academic teams (3 for 7th grade and 3 for 8th grade) so each team appointed a representative. The idea is that this representative serves as the point person between SST and their own team for discussion about students and any other item that we might need to address.
Don’t Waste Anyone’s Time
One of the first rules that we established was to get rid of the giant committee. Often when there are too many individuals on one committee the focus tends to shift away from the task at hand. We decided that we would divide into 7th and 8th grade teams so that we could spend more time focusing on students and so that our team were more likely to know all the students involved. In previous RTI committees that I have been apart of, there was a lot of time spent discussing students that not everyone knew so therefore there was little investment on their part to the conversation that was taking place.
The Right Tools
Probably the biggest change that we made to utilize everyone’s time better was streamlining our clerical processes. We used Google Apps to turn our submission process, record keeping, and notification process all digital. We used Google Forms and Sheets to handle our submission and record keep for our students. We also used add-ons, such as Formmuleand DocAppenderto help us with getting the right information to the right individuals and automating our emails and notifications. We also used hyperlinked Docs to help with our agenda and pre-planning process for any of our upcoming meetings.
The key to having any successful team is how do you move the attention from from the clerical aspect of being a team back to the task at hand. For us technology played a huge role in this process and gave us the tools we needed to help streamline the necessary processes.
The concept of teaming is great and can produce some outstanding work from educators. However, as we have moved to a PLC type model for our school, I have noticed that keeping track of notes and documentation from our teachers can become a bit of a jumbled mess because many people have their on forms of how they document. My goal was to create on system that the entire school could use for documentation and then separate out the notes to specific people. So using an add-on in Google Forms call docAppender, I was able to achieve this goal.
It is worth noting that there are also additional add-ons in sheets that can help you with your documentation and reporting purposes as well, such as Formmule.
I have been able to use Google Apps to streamline many of the processes that I use on a day to day basis at my job, but probably the most beneficial application of these apps has been through our current discipline system. By utilizing Google Forms, Sheets, and the Formmule Add-on I have been able to go to a paperless system that makes reports readily available. Through the video above I give a quick explanation of how to utilize Formmule with your discipline referral system in order to create automated reports.
The real benefit to using this system is not only the documentation that is created by having a running discipline referral system, but also the reports. The reports help me in my job by being able to keep everyone informed at all times. Depending on what report or action is taken based on the report, I can then notify my attendance secretary, special education designee, upper administration, counselors, in-school suspension supervisors, school resource officer, and anyone else that may have an educational interest in the report. Feel free to check out the video and explore the form that is discussed in the video by clicking on the link below.
One of the important roles that I have as an assistant principal is handling discipline for our school. Within the list of the consequences that students are given, according to our discipline policy, in-school (ISS) and out-of-school suspension (OSS) can be assigned depending on the severity of the original offense. While consequences for inappropriate behavior is definitely needed, one thing I’ve noticed this year is that the format of suspension is not always the most conducive to trying to handle the behavior. For the majority of your population at a school, suspension can be an effective disciplinary tool. However, this group of students are not the ones that spend the most time in ISS or OSS. Often you have a small group of your population that frequents ISS because of chronic discipline issues. So the question becomes, how is the current suspension model helping resolve any of the chronic behaviors? Especially ISS, since it is used more frequently than OSS.
So the current model that is used in many schools for ISS goes like this, student receives ISS as a consequence, they sit in a small room with one teacher for the duration of their time in ISS, they get caught up on assignments while missing classroom instruction, then when they are done they return to the classroom and are expected to resume the class as normal. The dilemma is that you are removing a student from direct instruction of the teacher and they are behind when they return to class; but, a consequence is needed. Furthermore, when the student returns to the classroom they are behind in the instruction and can become disengaged in the content. When students are disengaged, they are more likely to be a behavior issue in class.
So how do we fix this? The model of suspension is something that I have struggle with for sometime now because I know it’s not the most effective, but we still continue to use it because it’s one of the tools we have to handle behaviors. Essentially what could make the most difference in trying to correct this problem is having strong classroom instruction continue while suspended and character education to boot. This is much easier said than implemented though. The curriculum and staff development that would have to be done is a large task to accomplish.
The real emphasis to this system should be discipline as a corrective measure and not punishment because it is the tool that we have. Over the summer and moving into the next school year this is one of my major professional development goals for myself. I want to be able to provide appropriate instruction and access to the curriculum for these kids in both the academic and character education realms. One tool that I will work with to try and improve this is Google Classroom. My goal/vision is to be able to create a “Class” for students that may be in ISS so that myself and their teachers can push assignments out to students. The real beauty in using Classroom in this regard is the ease, instant feedback, and the quality of instruction can be must better than the old fashioned way of sending down a reading assignment and worksheets to complete. The same can be said for character education. My goal is to begin pulling as many resources as I can go begin to develop our own curriculum resources for in-school suspension. I know this is a lofty goal but it is something that I feel like can be accomplished through some hard work.