Thursday, May 1, 2014

The One Where I Notice Teachers are Miracle Workers

Every year it seems expectations increase as does the amount of content teachers have to cover. Like most teachers, I've shuffled things around to make it work. However, try as I might, there are some things that there never seems to be time for anymore.

Out of the things that I've had to push aside... the one I miss the most is talking with my students and getting to know them more personally. While I still know each one fairly well, it is not the same as it used to be.

With inspiration from +Sue Gorman  (@sjgorman on twitter), I decided to make a simple Google form each day so I could get an idea of how my students were feeling each morning. I've been doing this for about a month and the results I've gotten back each day have made me realize something about teachers.

We are miracle workers.

I'm not necessarily using that as hyperbole either. The very last graphic below shows a sampling of some of my students' responses in one day. Notice the roller coaster of emotions: "I'm tired because my parents let me play on the XBox until 11pm", "I'm angry because my brother beat me up on the way to school again", "I'm happy because we are taking a math benchmark test today", "I'm nervous because we are going on a field trip and the bus has no seat belts", "I'm excited because I'm seeing grandma this weekend", "I'm very sad because our dog is sick and at the vet. They might have to put him down"

Those are a sample of some very real responses I received on one of the days I've been doing this. The fact that teachers are able to get anything done with the wide range of emotions is, in my humble opinion, AMAZING! If you are a classroom teacher, pat yourself on the back for the miracles you work each and every day with the wonderful, beautiful, emotional children you have been assigned. Below is a step-by-step for how to get started making a simple Google Form to do the same thing. It literally takes about 2 minutes.

Go into Google Drive. your screen should look something like this:

Click on the red CREATE button and then select FORM from the list:

I usually title the form with the date, followed by a quick saying. For example, "April 30, 2014 - How Do You Feel This Morning?" and then I choose a random theme each day. Click OK after you have done this.

The main screen should appear and look something like this. On this particular form, I titled it "Monday, April 28, 2014"

If your screen shows choices similar to these at the top, I always select the top two choices. If you don't, you won't know which student is saying each comment (which sort of defeats the purpose).

I type in the question. In this case "How do you feel today?" In the help text, I usually add something like "Please answer with as much or as little as you want to say. No one will see your response except for me. I read every response each morning.". Make sure for QUESTION TYPE to change it to PARAGRAPH TEXT and check the box the reads REQUIRED QUESTION.

After you click DONE, your screen should look like this. Once here, click on SEND FORM.

Where it says "Send form via eMail" type in the eMail addresses for your class (I already have them in a group, so I just type the word 'class' in the box and all of their eMail addresses show up). Click DONE after that.

As students start to submit their answers, this is how they start to shape up on the RESPONSES spreadsheet that is automatically generated.

Back in Google Drive, the form shows up in my list of files along with an auto-generated spreadsheet that houses their responses.

If you click RESPONSES at the top and then select SUMMARY OF RESPONSES 

You will get a screen like this that will show you what your students are feeling like on that day.