The first week of school this year, my amazing assistant principal partner, Julie Clements (@jclements01), had a brilliant idea: to be more efficient and use less paper by keeping a digital contact log rather than a paper and pencil version (as we have both done for YEARS). She ran a spreadsheet from our district’s student database and then used autoCrat to create a separate Google Doc for each student that contained their contact information as well as a place for her to take notes for each parent phone call.
After seeing how happy she was after only a week of using her new system, I knew I had to try out my own digital contact log. I decided to use a Google Form to record each phone conversation (still looking up contact information in our district database prior to each call). As a part of the Google Form, I included the question, “Follow Up Needed?” If I select yes to that question, the Form prompts me to provide a short answer on what follow-up is needed. I then used autoCrat within the corresponding Google Sheet to set up a trigger. If I select “Yes” that follow up is needed, autoCrat emails me the student name, guardian name, phone number called, and notes I need to follow-up on!
I love this new system! Often the things I need to follow up on involve sharing what was decided in the conversation with another staff member. This makes it so easy to simply forward the message along and set up a time to discuss further rather than having to rewrite the same information or hunt that person down before I forget!
Even though my partner and I have set up different systems, we’ve both found that typing our notes rather than hand-writing them has improved the volume and quality of our notes as we can both type faster than we can hand write. It is also MUCH faster and more efficient when we need to go back and find a piece of information from a conversation. Rather than flipping through pages of a notebook or binder, we can both easily search our digital files to find the answers we are looking for.
Here’s how I set up the Google Form portion of my digital contact log:
Here’s how I set up the autoCrat function:
When sharing our excitement about our new way of setting up and running our contact logs this school year with a colleague, he worried that perhaps putting this private information into cloud-based storage would be in violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). I am so thankful he brought up this concern as it made us dig to find out just how secure Google for Education cloud-based storage is. The verdict: I’m even more in love with Google! Google not only complies with FERPA, but has taken numerous steps to ensure that student data (and all data stored within Google for Educations apps for that matter) remains private and secure. More information can be found on Google for Education’s Privacy and Security page. Don’t you just love Google!?!
Julie’s method sets up one Google Doc per student ahead of time, while my Form creates a giant searchable, sortable spreadsheet of all my conversations. Whichever method you choose, you are sure to be more efficient, more thorough, and able to go back and find information much more quickly by switching to a paperless contact log!