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OneNote—one school, one stop

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Today’s post was written by Michelle Moore, professional development liaison for Hillsborough County Public Schools.

Teachers need feedback for growth just like our students. Yet, any administrator will tell you there’s simply not enough time to visit classrooms and provide teachers with meaningful and effective feedback in a timely manner.

As a professional development liaison, I travel to K-12 schools in Hillsborough County and see what support systems are in place for teacher growth. At almost every site, I see administrators struggling with the same issues—high teacher to admin ratio and the tendency to get pulled into fixing operations issues. Very rarely does the administrator get to visit classrooms to provide teachers with meaningful feedback.

Hillsborough County has worked hard for the last few years to change this and to provide administrators with an opportunity to be teacher leaders, not managers. And their job just got a little easier with Microsoft Office 365.

Bellamy Elementary School was selected last year to become a pilot 1:1 school. It was the perfect fit—a Title I school with an amazing group of teachers and administrators to support students. I was excited to see how access to technology would affect student achievement.

But before the school year started and before students got their devices, my mind was blown.

Introducing the OneNote Staff Notebook

Dr. Lazarus (principal) and Dr. Seits (assistant principal) at Bellamy, wanted to increase communication and collaboration among their teachers. They decided since most teachers planned on using OneNote in the classroom, they would create a Staff Notebook for the staff. We wanted them to use the Collaboration Space and Content Library permissions as well as “push” things out using the Class Notebook add-in.

They also wanted the Staff Notebook to be the “hub” where teachers could go for anything related to the school. Dr. Seits had a genius idea. They would replace the paper feedback form teachers received in their mailboxes with a digital version added to their private OneNote notebook. In addition, the Staff Notebook gave teachers a way to digitally access faculty agendas and professional development materials, as well as input school-wide data and so much more.

Microsoft Forms as a tool for teacher feedback

But how could administration track the implementation of professional development and trends in teaching across grade levels? How could they give teachers meaningful feedback in a way that felt like a conversation, without taking the time to meet with each teacher individually every week?

I wish I could say I was the mastermind behind using Microsoft Forms, but that was all Dr. Seits. She had the vision of what was possible, I just had to show her a few clicks to get her going.

A “Walkthrough” form was created for each grade level, so the administration could reference feedback data by grade levels teams. The Walkthrough form for the grade level had some similar components based on the instructional focus for the year. See Dr. Seits’s Example Walkthrough form.

The administration fills out the form each time they visit a classroom. Shortcuts on their smartphones made it easy to access the form.

At the end of each day, the data is copy/pasted into the individual teacher’s private notebook. There is even a column for the teacher to write any comments on the feedback given. Once a quarter, the data from each form is copy/pasted into the grade level section of the OneNote Notebook, so teachers can meet and celebrate kudos, as well as discuss how to tackle any weaknesses.

OneNote and Forms are revolutionizing the way of work at Bellamy Elementary School. It’s not about working harder, but working smarter. Yes, the administrators are still busy with other things. Yes, they still have to schedule time to visit classrooms. But Forms is making the most of the time they are in the classroom, and OneNote ensures teachers are collaborating and growing from those visits.

—Michelle Moore

Michelle Moore is a professional development liaison for Hillsborough County Public Schools. Before leaving the classroom, she taught high school English, Reading and Journalism courses. She began her educational career in 2008 after graduating from the University of Tampa with a B.S. in Secondary Education-English.

She hopes to improve teaching practices in Hillsborough County through effective professional development and creating a community of learners.

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