Thanks to Google Forms and Google Spreadsheets, as well as two powerful Add-Ons in Forms, teachers can now schedule parent/teacher conferences in minutes. Not only does using Google Apps save you paper, it is much more organized and efficient. The video tutorial embedded below walks you through the process, start to finish.
If you prefer written instructions, I’ve included those as well, however the process is much easier to follow by watching the screencast.
Step One: Create your Google Form.
Be sure to DESELECT require Burlington Public Schools log in to view this form. If you don’t deselect this check box, parents will be unable to view and submit the form because they are not a part of the Burlington domain. This is a VERY important first step that you should not forget!
I recommend asking the following questions:
1. Student’s first and last name
2. Parent’s first and last name
3. Parent email address
4. Time of day parents would like to meet- I broke this up into early morning (7:30-10:00), mid morning (10:15-12:00), and afternoon (12:30-2:30, providing a half hour for lunch) You can customize the time slots based on your preferences. Make this a multiple choice question. You will direct parents to a separate page where all of the conference times will be listed. To do this, you will check the box that says, “go to page based on answer” and then you will create page breaks which will list the specific time slots available for each time of day.
Option: customize your form. I used a custom header image which was a picture of my Help Desk class. You can simply used a pre-designed form if you prefer.
Step Two: Create page breaks in the form to redirect parents to a specific page based on the time of day that they choose.
Click on “add item” and select “page break.” Name your page break. I created three page breaks and named each according to the time of day question:
Page break 1: Conferences 7:30-10:00
Page break 2: Conferences 10:15-12:00
Page break 3: Conferences 12:30- 2:30
In the upper right corner of each page break, I selected the drop down menu and selected “submit form” so parents will be able to submit the form after selecting the conference time. I then edited the time of day question and selected the appropriate page break (this is shown in the screen shot below).
Step 3: Use a Google Spreadsheet to create a formula and automatically populate conference times
Open a new spreadsheet. I named mine “Parent Teacher Conferences-Fall 2014”
I selected the entire column A and formatted the data as “time.” Select the 123 drop down menu and be sure “time” is selected.
Now go to cell A1 and type the the time of your first conference. I typed 7:30 in the demo.
In cell A2 you can type a formula to auto-generate all of your conference times. The formula is:
=A1+Time(0,15,0) The 15 represents 15 minute conferences. You can change that 15 to 5, 10, 20, or however long you wish your conferences to be.
Next hit enter and you will see the time appear. You can click and drag to populate all of the rest of the cells. If you wish to have 15 minute conferences that will last until 2:30, then you will go to cell A29. (I tested this for you already). You will now copy and paste the cells that contain the times 7:30 through 10:00 into the appropriate spot in your form. In this instance, it will be the page break where conferences from 7:30-10:00 are listed. You will now select “add item” and select multiple choice as the question type. For your questions, you can write something like, “please select the time you would like to meet.” Next you will click inside the box that lists “option 1” and then hit paste. All of the times you have listed will populate automatically. The process only takes seconds.
Once the form is completed, you can test it to ensure you have set it up correctly. You should be able to select a time of day, be taken to a separate page listing all of the time slots that are available, and then you should be able to submit the form.
I would also suggest allowing parents to edit their response as well as submit another response in case they wish to change their conference time and/or they have another child who has you as a teacher and the parent needs to schedule a second conference with you.
Advantages of Google Forms
Obviously the first advantage of using forms is that you are saving paper. However, the use of forms is also helping you to stay organized with your conference schedule. You as the teacher will have a spreadsheet generated automatically listing your students’ names, parents’ names, and the conference time they have selected. This is much more efficient than trying to find emails and/or returning voice mail messages from parents who want to meet with you. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about misplacing a piece of paper. Below is a screen shot of what the responses will look like in the spreadsheet that is automatically generated.
Using Form Adds- Form Notifications and Choice Eliminator
Also included in the tutorial is how to use two powerful Form Add-Ons; Forms Notifications and Choice Eliminator.
Form Notifications allow you to be notified when a form is submitted. By default, you will be notified after you have received 10 form submissions, however you can customize how often you will receive the notifications. If I knew I would be seeing a lot of parents, I would change the default from 10 to 1. This helps you plan out your day ahead of time. You can also create a custom notification for the parents once they complete your form. This allows parents to receive a custom notification from you via email.
Choice Eliminator is a second add-n which I demonstrate in the tutorial and is highly recommended. With this add-on installed, the time slots that you have listed will automatically be removed from the list of choices as parents make their selections. This avoids double booking and the need to reschedule.
I’d encourage you to spend 13 minutes of your time watching the tutorial and then setting up your own form. On the other hand, if you would like one on one assistance setting up your Form and/or using Form Notifications and Choice Eliminator, and sending the completed form out to the parents of your students, you can schedule an appointment with me by clicking here: jscheffer.youcanbook.me