So much of “being a teacher” happens outside of class. Meetings, professional development, communication, planning, organization, grading… we work just as hard outside of the classroom as we do inside it! Here are three quick Google tips to make teaching after hours that much easier.
Tip 1: Create and Share a Parent-Visible Google Calendar
Who enjoys 9-emails-long-threads of trying to find a meeting time? No one. Instead, share an “Availability” calendar with parents that displays your available times to meet. I’d suggest updating it a week at a time, so you aren’t locked into a meeting time that is no longer available. You can either make the calendar publicly visible, or manually grant permission to parent email addresses. Or, you can take it on a case-by-case basis: if a parent emails asking for a time to meet, that’s when you can add them to the calendar’s visibility (Settings → “Share with Specific People”) and send them the calendar’s link (Settings → “Get Shareable Link”).
Tip 2: Create "Groups" in Contacts for Quick Emailing
Does this sound familiar?
1. Get out class roster.
2. Go down the list, typing in each parent (or multiple parents’) addresses.
3. Double-check addresses.
4. Get several “undeliverable” receipts after you send.
5. Smack head on desk.
No more! Now, import your parents’ email addresses into a Google Contact Group, so that you’re one-click away from contacting everyone. Click here for a visual how-to. Ready to level-up? Install the “canned responses” Gmail Lab to auto-fill often-used emails.
Tip 3: Get to Know Your Students (and Get That Syllabus Signed) with Google Forms
At the beginning of the school year, I have all sorts of questions for my students:
- Do you have any allergies?
- How do you best learn?
- What color represents you, and why?
- Do you prefer Vampires or Werewolves?
- Will you ever sign the syllabus?
Google Forms allow you to export all responses to a spreadsheet for viewing, and all photo uploads (i.e. that pesky syllabus) are aggregated to one Google Drive folder. A little-known bonus is that students can fill the Google Form on their smartphone, uploading from their photo library on their device! Check out my “Getting to Know You” Form here, and consider sending the link to students or embedding the link on your Google Classroom or Site. You can even link to the syllabus, for students/parents who can’t find it (or “can’t find it”).
Have a great tip to share, Google or otherwise? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!