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. 












28 comments:

  1. I work with ESL students, and this would be a great daily or weekly writing activity that not only teaches emotions vocabulary and the subtle differences between words (for example, nervous vs. anxious). It's also a great way for them to share things that might otherwise disrupt the classroom routine or that they wouldn't otherwise have an opportunity to share. What a great idea! Thanks!

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  2. I've loved this idea since the first time you shared it with the iPad Academy last spring. This is so quick, and so easy to have 25 very important 'conversations' with kids in short amount of time. The freedom to respond and connect electronically, or in person, is very powerful for young kids.

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  3. Thank you for your post. I was just telling a co-worker how I feel as if I cannot get to know my students as well as I have in previous years. I am more worried about being able to teach new curriculum correctly and therefore have neglected to get to know the students' individual personalities. This bothers me. Your idea would give me a quick yet meaningful activity to begin a personal relationship with my class.

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  4. Great idea for all teachers. Knowing my kids and their lives is a major goal of mine. I don't have iPads or access to classroom computers on a daily basis for this idea, but I love the thought!

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  5. Thank you Garrett for sharing this post! It is essential for students to feel comfortable with their feelings and emotions. We don't always know what is happening outside of the classroom. Building relationships with your students allows them to trust you. This way of communication may be more comfortable for some students to share.

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  6. This is a great idea. We are on such a tight schedule that we don't always find time to just sit and get to know each other. However, I feel that this could be done first thing in the morning while taking attendance and lunch count.

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  7. Thanks Garrett for this great idea! It would be so helpful if I could understand how each student was feeling each day of the week. You obviously have set up an environment in which they feel very safe to share their feelings. I think it is a wonderful way to begin the day. As a teacher, you would then know how to reach those students that may be "hard to reach". Thanks!

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  8. This is awesome, Garrett! Unfortunately with our schedule being so tight, it is a wonderful way for us to find out how our students feel each day. Thanks for helping me set this up for my fourth graders. I am excited to use this with my students.

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  9. Your passion for this profession is unwavering. Thank you for helping me to realize that there is still time and opportunity to be the kind of relationship builder that I'd like to be. This really makes a teacher like me turn inward. From now on I am going straight to finding solutions rather than complaining about time lost.

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  10. This is a great way to check in with your students. It doesn't take much time, but allows you to see what is going on with each individual kid. It also gives them a chance to tell you something that maybe they want to tell you, but don't want to say out loud.

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  11. What a great and easy way to get "in touch" with your students on a daily basis. It definitely helps when working with kids to understand what they're coming in the door with each day. It's amazing how something so simple can make such a huge impact! Way to go! Thanks for sharing!

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  12. Awesome idea! Just when you think you know your students, this might be a way for them to open up a bit more. I think as educators we often don't consider what kind of issues a student might be dealing with outside of our classrooms, and the impact that those issues might have on their learning. This is a great way for those shy kiddos to open up. Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Thank you Garrett for sharing this with us. It's hard to find the time anymore these days to fit things into our busy schedule. We need to start thinking about the students and letting them know that we are invested in them and that we care about them and how they feel. It's amazing to know that your students feel comfortable enough to share how they feel. That's wonderful and thank you for all that you do with education.

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  14. What a quick, easy way to get to know more about your students. Thanks for sharing! I always try to keep in my mind that I don't know what each student's day is like before they get to me, but it's easy to forget. This provides a great way to keep myself humble about what I'm teaching, and to remind me that they're people first... students second. What a neat activity for if we become a 1:1 district. :)

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  15. This is a GREAT idea! I think something like this could work for students of any age. What an awesome way for you to see exactly where your students are at on any given day. It's also a great way for your students to feel cared about by you. Thanks for the great idea!

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  16. This is a great idea! A way to find out about your students with a simple question. In some cases something that they might not share with you as they walk in your room because they don't want others to hear what they are saying, etc. It is nice to know how they are feeling as you start the day so you know what they are dealing with.

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  17. What a great way to allow students to share their feelings in a safe, non-threatening way. Students who wouldn't normally share aloud have a format in which to share. Often times, teachers get caught up in the stress of day-to-day. This tool would really make me slow down and see each child as an individual. Plus, I would then have that data to share with parents, track situations, or compare with other data. Awesome idea!

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  18. This is a wonderful idea. A great way to quickly check in with students, but also preparing you for what could be entering your classroom. I also think it could be a great way to track certain behaviors of a student and look for patterns. It could lead to a discussion with that students about certain situations. Wonderful idea!

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  19. Great idea, thanks for sharing! I think it's crucial in developing healthy relationships with students to make a connection with them in their daily lives. Having them check in with how they are feeling right away, gives the teacher an opportunity to address issues if there are any right away instead of waiting for the student to act out. It also provides data so that trends can be documented to provide evidence for explaining the behaviors / attitudes of students. Great idea!

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  20. What a great way to get to know your students and show them that you care! Thanks for sharing! Some times I take the little things for granted, like asking about students days as they enter the room, but this is a great reminder that those little things matter a lot.

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  21. I love this! I may adapt this using SeeSaw next year (first graders don't have e-mails for google forms) when we are 1:1.
    It is so powerful for students to feel valued, and this is a great way to start the day on the right foot. Thanks for sharing!

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  22. This is awesome. What a powerful way to start the day, fully engaged. I look forward to being able to use more of the iPads once I get my class set

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  23. I couldn't agree more! As I read this blog post, I immediately found myself trying to adapt this to a Kindergarten classroom. I could give each students a quarter sheet of paper with a blank face template on it each morning and have students fill in the face to reflect how they are feeling this morning.

    Great read! Thank you!

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  25. I love the idea of doing this in the classroom. I do feel like we don't have enough time to truly get to know our students like we should. I try to make time everyday to reach out to my students , but I feel like it has to be quick because I have to move on to the next lesson. I found myself thinking about how this would fit into my room next year. When we get our ipads I think this would be a great morning activity.

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  26. We could really do this just as a little note at the bottom of our morning work. I always have my students tell me about their weekend on their Monday morning work. This way they all get a chance to share in our busy classroom with me.
    Great way to build a relationship with our students.

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  27. Awesome idea! Our days always start out so busy, but this is a great way to connect and for the students to do it privately. Great documentation via technology for any issues that arise as well.

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