Google Forms are used by educators the world over for formative assessments, quizzes, to collect information from parents, and much more. But how might we use a Google Form to build relationships? It’s all in the questions we ask and the consistency in which we ask them!
You may have heard of the “I wish my teacher knew” movement that gained so much popularity a few years back. The idea is to simply ask students to write down something they wish their teacher knew about them or their life. I have done this activity with students with paper and pencil and so many of the things students shared were amazingly eye-opening.
I believe that this exercise can be elevated even further if it becomes part of a regular class routine for the teacher to ask students open-ended questions – but it would be a challenge for any teacher to go through all of those little pieces of paper. This is where technology can come to the rescue! Using a simple Google Form to ask students what they wish their teacher knew (or another open-ended question about their life or feelings) can provide the same amazing feedback from students while saving the teacher time and energy.
When students answer questions in a Google Form, their responses are collected within the form, however, Google Forms also gives you the option to click on the little green Sheets button and create a Google Sheet that shows ALL of the responses on ONE page! Game changer!
As a multi-tasking educator, this would enable you to assign students a Google Form to answer your relationship-building question(s) as they enter the classroom and then do their warm-up question (for example). Then you could simply pull up the corresponding Google Sheet, see ALL of their responses on one page, and prioritize who you might need to speak to.
For example, if a student reports they wish their teacher knew that they haven’t had breakfast and didn’t get any sleep last night, and feel sick, you would probably want to check-in with this student privately right away and send them to the nurse or provide them with a snack. If another student reports being angry with another student in the class, you might intentionally keep them separated until you can ask for more details and help them work it out. And if another student reports their team won a victory over the weekend, you can be sure to congratulate them or remind them about the win later if they need writing prompt inspiration.
Kelsey French, an outstanding 4th grade Math and Science teacher at Rennell Elementary, has each of her students complete a daily check-in using a Google Form in this way. She reports that it has not only had a significant impact on her relationships with her students, but that it also has helped her to be pro-active – removing obstacles, giving students space, or taking care of student needs before they can escalate into behavior issues in the classroom. So, if you were thinking, “I’m not sure if I have time for this 5-minute check-in in my class every day,” I believe the pros here FAR outweigh the cons and you will end up saving more time than you lose by knowing your kids, their needs, and how you can step in proactively.
Kelsey’s daily check-in includes the following questions:
- How are you today?
- Goal for the day/week?
- Anything else you want me to know?
If you do this regularly, you may get lots of “fine’s” as responses – but that is what is great about this. You will be able to scan the Google Sheet to quickly see who IS having a tough day or has something they really want to share with you. We’ve all had those students who ALWAYS have something really important that they NEED to share that has absolutely nothing to do with the lesson. By asking students what they’d like to share upfront, you value them, allow them an outlet to share at an appropriate time (rather than after you’ve asked a content-rich question) and, if you follow up, you show the student you care about them and what they shared.
You can save yourself even more time by using the same Google Form all year. After you’ve read over a day of responses, highlight the rows with responses you’ve read, right-click (or two-finger click on a track pad), and select “Hide Rows”. This will hide these responses so you don’t have to scroll down, down, down, and this makes it incredibly easy to see which responses are new each day.
Additionally, by keeping the same Google Form all year long, you can use the keyboard shortcut ctrl + f to bring up the search bar and type in a students’ name. This will enable you to sort for just that student so you can look for patterns, and/or follow up with students later.
So, I encourage you to build relationships with students using a Google Form! It has so much power!!!