I just started teaching in the School District of Philadelphia last year. As a recently graduated teacher, I am trying to learn as much as I can about how the district operates. I want to get up-to-speed as fast as possible.
That being said, I think there are a few really innovative things going on in the School District and I can share one with you now from where I am – the High School of the Future.
Since student-teaching three years ago I have been working on creating systems that document student-teacher and parent-teacher interactions in a way that is searchable and easy-to-use. I began in the 2008-2009 school year by creating an Excel Spreadsheet for all of my students and inputting information on a student’s page if I called home, had an incident with them in class, or just wanted to provide feedback on how they were doing. It was an internal record for what was going on.
In the 2009-2010 school year I expanded that by placing the same spreadsheets on Google Docs. I was at West Philadelphia High School and many of the teachers were familiar with Google Docs so we all started contributing to these pages. This way I knew if another teacher had an incident or called home for a student that I had as well. It was an amazing boon for CSAP as all we had to do was click the print button to document anything goings-on
Now during the 2010-2011 school year, with the help of my new colleagues at the School of the Future, we have made an improvement on that system (something I didn’t think possible). Using the online portal system we have at the school, a co-worker of mine has helped me create a database system that all teachers (and administrators, secretaries, anyone we deem necessary) have access to. It works similarly to what I described on Google Docs except that it is COMPLETELY searchable – by name of student, person who input the information, date, type of activity, etc. We even input absence notes into the system so advisers can easily share their information with the rest of the school and the attendance secretary. This system is GREAT for collaborative efforts with teachers across the school and shares information instantaneously.
Many people complain about things going on at their schools and I’m sure if I started I wouldn’t be able to stop, but I wanted to highlight something we are doing well and offer to help others create a similar system in their schools. This is something that can help people immensely by savings time and energy otherwise spent filling out LOADS of paperwork.