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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Going Paper-Free as Grade Dean

The following are the launch grant goals from Miles Billings, MS 7th Grade Dean:
  • Find ways to consolidate all 7th student data into neat, organized, searchable files for faculty (and advisors) to access at all times. 
  • Let this pilot of data consolidation serve as a model for other grade deans to adapt and adopt overtime. 
  • Delineate those data between what is to be public and what is to be confidential, establish more clear policy around that. 
  • Make all parent call sheets (filled out three-four times per year on handwritten paper) to be completed online and paper-free within the same individual student files. This project is big enough that it may require a two year pilot on my end to make it all work. 
Since becoming 7th Grade Dean in 2011-2012, I have sought to be as organized as possible given my yearly charge of over 80 students. Paper organization has never been a strong suit of mine yet I have reluctantly accumulated shelves full of three ring binders over the last ten years at BB&N. I realized that the most efficient way to capture all of these student data, and to keep it organized and easy to sort through, would be to go paperless as Grade Dean. Not an easy task and would also require the help of our entire Middle School faculty.

Our investment in Google Apps has made this possible but, the ultimate goal of complete paperless-ness is yet to be obtained. I would say I am 90% of the way there. Here is what we have transferred from paper to electronic over the years:
  • All incoming student notes from the Lower School and admissions 
  • All matching of students to advisors and homerooms 
  • All current student notes, updated throughout the year, in the form of a commonly shared Google Sheet which is then passed on to the 8th grade team at the end of the year. 
  • All parent communication data from advisors to home 
  • All faculty meeting notes and presentations regarding current students 
  • All academic grades and comments 
  • All Weekly Reports assigned to particular students by the Student Support Team 
  • All Middle School mix faculty chaperone sign ups 

Many of these listed items are not all my doing. Most, in fact, require the help and support of at least part of, if not the whole, Middle School faculty. There are still a few items which I am attempting to address this academic year, and again need the support of certain key members within the faculty. These are:
  • 7th grade detention write ups: done on Google Form by student, submitted online 
  • Club and after school program rosters, consolidated and easily accessed by faculty 
The final truly old school paper-based tradition in the Middle School are the advisor slips, given to students who break certain school rules. There are 4 pieces of paper generated with each issued slip. These individual pieces of paper go to various people, including the student. This system could be turned paperless but I think that goal is a few years away.

In the end, going paperless gives me peace of mind that knowing that I can easily find documents from this year, or years past, and can easily share and collaborate on student data with the whole Middle School faculty.

Miles Billings
History Teacher
7th Grade Dean

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