Cut Down On Meetings: 4 Useful Collaboration Tools for Teachers and Administrators
With time in short supply for many teachers and administrators, deleting a few meetings from everyone’s calendars is likely to elicit sighs of relief — understandably! But less meetings doesn’t have to mean a weaker flow of information. In fact, there are plenty of tools that can help your team collaborate throughout the week, keeping everyone informed, feeling valued, and perhaps a tad less stressed. Both teachers and administrators, check out these examples below.
Planbook.com allows teachers to construct their lesson plans online. They can set up their weekly schedule into a preloaded format, and opt to have their state standards easily flowed in. Hyperlinks can also be embedded within the plans for quick access to handouts, images, or videos.
Each educator will need their own login and account as it is a subscription-based service ($12 per year), but teachers can plan together — and administrators can view their plans online, provide comments and feedback to their teachers, create a shared school calendar, and even review the standards covered by each teacher.
A shared drive like Google Drive — with the ability to upload folders, individual docs, and more — is nearly perfect for storing information that needs to be accessed by large groups of people, and for colleagues to collaborate on their own time. Administrators could upload commonly used forms for the staff so that information can be centrally located and printed out as needed, and teachers might find it a useful place to store lesson plans, units, and materials that are repeatedly used each year — or for whenever they’re looking for feedback or edits on a particular doc.
Ever thought about organizing a weekly email newsletter to let staff know about upcoming deadlines, general information related to the school, and important reminders? Or if you’ve already tried that, did they actually get read? Because with BEE, you can easily assemble engaging, mobile responsive emails for free, and send them right from your own email system. Think drag-and-drop, plug-and-play — super simple when it comes to adding text or images.
Teachers and staff could be encouraged to reply if there are any questions or concerns. And administrators can get a sense of what may need to be addressed further in a staff meeting based upon reaction to the weekly emails.
Whenever you have a big group project in the works, are looking for brainstorming ideas from your colleagues, or just want to be able to keep in touch with other, say, club advisors, rather than set up another meeting, turn to Slack. The office collaboration tool’s website says it best: “Slack brings all your team’s communication together, giving everyone a shared workspace where conversations are organized and accessible.”
Picture a virtual chat room, open 24/7 and ongoing, where you can type instant messages, tag others, add hashtags, and save key comments you don’t want to forget. The Slack for Education program offers an 85% discount on one of their paid plans for qualified applicants, which includes nonprofit educational institutions and accredited primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions. (And for small teams, Slack is free.)
Find out what works for you
Give each of these tools a test run to see which ones stick with your colleagues and which ones just won’t work. And for those times when you simply must have a meeting (they’re inevitable!), take a look at these tips to make them run efficiently and on time.
Meaghan Maldonado has a BA in English from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MEd from Claremont Graduate University. She spent almost a decade working with elementary students as a classroom teacher in California, and later as a specialist for English Learners in Virginia. She was actively involved in school leadership and continued her education as a teacher with graduate level courses. She currently resides in the suburbs of Washington D.C. where she enjoys writing, traveling, and spending time with her family.