Why the sad face? The loss of morale in teachers

Everyone in every job in every country at some point thinks, ‘I hate my job’. It’s one of the challenges with full-time work – but, when you are overworked, overstressed and falling behind, those four little words can begin to creep into your everyday vernacular.

This is certainly beginning to apply to teachers as job satisfaction levels reach record lows.

A 2012 MetLife Survey of Teachers found teacher job satisfaction declined from 62 percent of teachers feeling ‘very satisfied’ in 2008 to 39 percent by 2012. The survey also showed 51 percent of US teachers report feeling under great stress several days a week. But the trend does not stop there.

A recent survey by the Guardian Teaching Network found, by large, teachers in the UK feel overworked and undervalued, with 82 percent saying their workload is unmanageable and only four in 10 saying they are happy with their job.

And, in Australia, teachers work harder than their colleagues across the world. On average, Australian primary school teachers have 871 face-to-face hours with students annually compared to the world average of 782 hours per year.

This is leading to a decline in not only the amount of students enrolling in teacher courses, but it has been reported close to 50 percent of those who graduate as teachers leave the profession in the first five years.

When you actually crunch all these numbers, add the stress and overtime, these factors are major contributors to a loss of morale in teachers. And the biggest question that remains is: how do you win back that lost morale?

In Australia, the Grattan Institute put out the report, ‘Making time for great teaching’, which found teachers need to cut back on things that don’t directly improve teaching and learning. The report showed, when teachers were more efficient by cutting back on unnecessary tasks, they could spend more time doing what they loved – teaching.

This research is also in step with the UK Education Secretary Nicky Morgan who recently explained, “Teachers should spend more of their working week in the classroom rather than carrying out pointless administration tasks.”

“More should be done to tackle the issue of ‘unnecessary workload’ faced by teachers to give them more time with children.”

One of the ways teachers can take charge of their workload is to cut down on irrelevant or outdated processes and even start school initiatives for assisting the entire teaching workforce.

www.flickr.com-photos-pennajoe

First, find out which aspects of classroom time you can control. In some schools, teachers find they can reduce the time it takes to schedule lessons, grade papers and plan extracurricular activities by using digital tools to better organise calendars and paperwork.

The key is to find simple solutions for eliminating menial work like printing paper, or brush up on some time management skills by really looking at where your time is going during the day. And, if any of these methods work, it is a great opportunity to share your time-saving methods with the rest of the teaching team to hopefully adopt a school-wide approach to lessen the workload.

Rich McKinney, PhD, an award winning assistant principal in the US, explains how taking the initiative helps empower teachers and leads to better teaching and student learning outcomes. He says, “Teachers in schools do not call the shots. They have very little say. They’re told what to do; it’s a very disempowered line of work.”

“Students need teachers are who are highly competent role models, whose talents and expertise are leveraged both inside and outside of the classroom, and when possible, away from school in the community. When students recognize their teachers are leaders, their natural response will be to follow. School morale can only improve in this type of environment.”

There may be a loss of morale but it does not spell destruction for the teaching industry. Instead, it is an opportunity to take back control and get back to the real reason you became a teacher – to teach.

Read about how ParentPaperwork is playing its part in reducing teacher and school administration stress.

ParentPaperwork announces the launch of new School Forms module

ParentPaperwork is pleased to announce the launch of our new School Forms module, expanding the ParentPaperwork platform to a wide range of online forms scenarios in schools.

Since its launch in 2014 ParentPaperwork has been enthusiastically embraced by schools in Australia and internationally to replace the paper forms exchanged between schools and parents, realising significant time and cost savings, and improving productivity and efficiency.

Over the past few months, as schools utilised ParentPaperwork more, and for a wider range of activities, they started to ask “so if it’s this easy for parents to fill out a form, is it possible for staff to complete forms as well?”. ParentPaperwork took onboard this feedback, and consulted widely both with existing school customers and others, and has created a completely new module that embraces many of the paper form scenarios raised by schools.

The current system used by schools for convenience is now known as ‘Parent Slips’, and remains the initial product purchased by schools, with the School Forms module available as an add-on at your request.

The forms can be created by staff, parents and even prospective parents; they can relate to a student, or be purely administrative. Forms can move through approval workflows, and notifications to relevant staff and parents can be automatically triggered during the workflow process.

Staff can initiate a form for one or more students, enter information and then optionally send to parents for additional information or acknowledgement. Perfect for incident reports; disciplinary reports; and many more.

Parents can create new forms to send to school, for their current students or a new child. Great examples are Leave of Absence requests; and advising of issues for discussion during forthcoming parent/teacher meetings.

Parents can create new forms to send to school, for their current students or a new child. Great examples are Leave of Absence requests; and advising of issues for discussion during forthcoming parent/teacher meetings.

All the School Forms templates have unique URLs you can pass onto people outside the school. When clicked the visitor can create a new parent log in, a student record and complete and submit the form. Ideal for registrations of interest for a place; enrolment information and more.

In another major development existing parents can sign in and view a complete history of all forms for their children; be alerted to outstanding forms; and start new forms.

Plus data from School Forms can be exported to PDF files and downloaded after uploading a PDF template and mapping the form fields. This is a great feature if your governing body or authority requires some forms to be provided on their official templates, yet you want the convenience of online data capture.

The School Forms module is available now, and we’d love to show you how it can help your school’s administration – please contact support@parentpaperwork.com to arrange a demo and to have the module enabled. Pricing for the School Forms module is the same as for the current Parent Slips – so you will be charged an additional amount equal to your current subscription. Current customers can ask for a proportional price so the subscription expiry date is the same for both modules.

ParentPaperwork’s mission is to replace paper forms in schools around the world, and we’re achieving this by creating a fantastic online platform that enables schools to capture, manage and report data from across their enterprise to improve productivity and efficiency, and deliver a better experience for parents and staff. The School Forms module is another step in our journey, and we are excited to continue to help teachers and school administrators everywhere.

There is a detailed explanation of the key features of the School Forms module on our web site, click here to read more.

ParentPaperwork’s School Forms module expands the Parent Slips module to encompass a wide range of forms within your school

The School Forms Module expands the Parent Slips module to encompass a wide range of forms within your school.

The forms can be created by staff, parents and even prospective parents; they can relate to a student, or be purely administrative. Forms can move through approval workflows, and notifications to relevant staff and parents can be automatically triggered during the workflow process.

Staff can initiate a form for one or more students, enter information and then optionally send to parents for additional information or acknowledgement. Perfect for incident reports; disciplinary reports; and many more.

Parents can create new forms to send to school, for their current students or a new child. Great examples are Leave of Absence requests; and advising of issues for discussion during forthcoming parent/teacher meetings.

All the School Forms templates have unique URLs you can pass onto people outside the school. When clicked the visitor can create a new parent log in, a student record and complete and submit the form. Ideal for registrations of interest for a place; enrolment information and more.

Form Templates

The original Parent Slip Form Template type is augmented by four others:

Type Description Examples
School Form for Student, no Parent Response Form created by User sent to Parent referencing a Student, no Parent response required Discipline report; uniform report; incident report.
School Form for Student, with Parent Response Form created by User sent to Parent referencing a Student, with Parent response As above but a response or acknowledgment is also required back from the Parent.
Parent Initiated Form for Student Form created by Parent sent to School referencing a Student An existing parent could fill out a Sick Note, or a Leave of Absence.
School Staff Form no Student Form created by Staff member sent to School A Form completed by a staff member not relevant to a Student. Examples include a PD Request; a Leave/Vacation Request.

Form Links

All the School Forms templates have unique URLs, that allow people outside your school to create a Form from the Template. You can email the URLs or post them on your web site. For example, you could display the URL on the public areas of your website for prospective parents to complete a Registration of Interest for a place. Or within your private Parent Portal for existing parents to complete a sick note or apply for a leave of absence. If the person completing the Form is not already a Parent Contact in ParentPaperwork they will be asked to create a sign in, and enter the parent and student details.

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When someone clicks on the URL they are given the choice to Create a New Account or Sign In.

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Account Creation

A person who is not yet a parent at the School can create a new sign in – they could be a prospective parent filling out an enquiry or registration of interest for a place.

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And then enter the details of their Student, after which they can complete and submit the online form.

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Existing Parent Contact

If someone clicks the URL who is an existing Parent they can Sign In. If they do not already have a password, they will be asked to create one. They must use Two Factor Authentication, with a code number sent to their mobile phone, in order to create the password.

If your school uses the Two Factor Authentication option already, then your Parents can sign in using their email address and the password they previously created.

Parent Sign In – My Forms

When a parent signs in they can access their My Forms page. From this page they can initiate new Forms, complete outstanding Forms, and view a complete history of all Forms for their children.

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Any outstanding Parent Slips requiring their attention are clearly highlighted at the top of the page.

Parents can view any Form related to their children by clicking through from the list.

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PDF Creation

Whilst using online forms to capture data is clearly very efficient and a big time and labour saver, sometimes at the end of the day some forms need to be available in the prescribed format for a school’s auspicing body – a state education office; a Catholic CEO – and so the data from School Forms can be easily rendered into PDFs.

Each Form Template can have one or more PDF forms associated.

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The fields on the Form Template are mapped to the fields on the PDF.

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You can then export a School Form to a new PDF file with the various data elements merged into the PDF.

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Staff Create Forms for Students

Staff members can create Forms relating to Students, which may or may not require information or acknowledgement from their Parents. Staff can initiate a new Form from the Dashboard, or by clicking School Forms on the main menu.

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One or more Students can be selected and allocated, so the Form could apply to one student, or to a small group.

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If the Form Template requires a response from Parents, then once the Staff member has completed the Form it will be sent to the relevant Parents to complete and return their response.

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Staff Create Forms

Some Staff Forms will not relate to Students – these could be Professional Learning Requests; Leave/Vacation Requests or other internal administration forms.

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A Form can move through a workflow, with multiple approvals, including sending a notification to nominated staff, perhaps once the Form is complete.

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For more information, or a demonstration of the ParentPaperwork platform, please contact us.

ParentPaperwork is pleased to introduce Australia’s leading publisher of teacher and student diaries and planning accessories

Createl Publishing is Australia’s leading publisher of teacher and student diaries and planning accessories. Createl Publishing’s very first Teacher’s Professional Diary was produced in 1997, after two teachers realised the need for a dated teacher’s planner in Australian classrooms. Today, our teacher and student diaries can be found in over 6,000 schools across Australia and New Zealand.

Since our humble beginnings in 1997, Createl Publishing has continued to develop and publish a comprehensive range of teacher and student diaries spanning all year levels, from early learning to senior secondary. Our teacher diaries are designed to suit almost any school’s timetable and any teacher’s planning style, with 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 period options available. We have also developed an eDiary for those who prefer the convenience of an online planner.

Some of our most popular products include:

  • Communication Diary
  • Early Years Daily Planner
  • ReadingTrek Home Reader Diary
  • StudyTrek Homework Diary
  • Secondary Wellbeing Teacher Planner

Createl Publishing’s products are used by over 6,000 schools throughout Australia and New Zealand. We also sell to thousands of individual customers.

Around 20 years ago, two teachers realised the need for a dated teacher’s diary in Australian schools. They spotted a gap in the market, and Createl Publishing was born.

Before our first Teacher’s Professional Diary appeared in classrooms in 1997, teachers had no choice but to painstakingly date every page of their planner, taking up valuable time that could be better spent on their students.

Find out more about Createl

ParentPaperwork’s mission to change the world

When we founded ParentPaperwork a little over year ago we had one simple idea, to tackle the problem of paper permission forms sent home by schools to parents. Every parent of a school-age child understands this problem, we live with it every day of term. Of course we understand the reason for the forms, but the practical reality is each piece of paper emerging from our kids’ school bags is just another task to be dealt with.

Our goal with ParentPaperwork was to significantly improve this process both for schools and parents. The heart of the idea was straightforward, create an online tool that automated the paper-based process, and through the use of online forms and a database make life easier for all concerned.

Over the past year we have spoken with literally hundreds of schools in Australia and around the world. We’ve never passed up an opportunity to have a conversation with a school wherever in the world they might be located. Last Friday I had a 2am call with a US school, then another at 6.30am – the joys of time difference notwithstanding, and putting aside any need for me to sleep, both calls, which involved demonstrating our software, yielded nuggets of information we could add to our understanding of customer needs.

Our sales team calls probably 20 or 30 schools every day and we receive a stream of enquiries via email, phone and Twitter, and each and every contact also adds to that understanding.

Our objective of addressing a relatively straightforward problem has evolved into an increasingly sophisticated comprehension of school operations, needs and problems, and we have adjusted our goal and mission accordingly.

Schools are traditionally conservative environments from a business management perspective. The innovation that often occurs in their academic operations is not usually mirrored in the school office. In this aspect schools are not alone – a significant proportion of businesses large and small adhere to traditional management approaches.

The winners in business are the ones who can break away from legacy concepts. Often they are referred to as ‘disruptors’, they attack a market from a completely different direction from the incumbents – think SalesForce in customer relationship tools; Uber in taxi cabs; Xero in accounting software; AirBnB in accommodation bookings. These companies have become what’s known as ‘unicorns’, new businesses that have attained $1b valuations in relatively short periods of time. The key reason for that growth and success is the way they have upended traditional thinking and processes in markets with long term deeply embedded incumbents.

There is now a raft of companies tackling disruption of traditional methodologies in teaching and learning, and this is reflected in a significant growth in the quantity of venture capital flowing to the companies in this space. The realisation we have come to is that there is a dearth of businesses targeting the administrative side of a school.

What most people ignore is that schools are businesses, by which I mean, if you forget for a moment that they are educating our children, schools have all the attributes of a business, albeit generally a not-for-profit. They provide a service, they have staff, they have expenses, manage assets and generate revenue. A government-funded school might receive a significant part of its revenue via a subsidy or payment, but there is still a profit and loss statement, and money coming in and going out. There are still staff and all the accompanying human resource management issues. Yet schools for the most part lag behind commercial enterprise in adopting new methods and processes in their administration.

We believe our company and its technology can disrupt a part of that school administration function in way that will have a profound impact on not just the school’s day to day operations, but in the education of our children, and the preservation of our planet.

ParentPaperwork’s Mission

All of our learning accumulated over the past year, combined with our deep diving on the operations of schools around the world has led us to codify conclusions about our mission and goals as a business. They are simply expressed:

ParentPaperwork’s mission is to
replace paper forms in schools around the world.
 

ParentPaperwork’s goal is to
save schools a billion pieces of paper a year.

We’re going to achieve this by providing an online solution that enables schools to capture, manage and report data from across their enterprise to improve productivity and efficiency, and deliver a better experience for parents and staff.

The outcomes from this are tangible. If we achieve our goal:

  1. We’ll save a dramatic amount of staff time, and staff time saved is time that can be redirected to teaching students. By replacing paper systems we improve education outcomes for children.
  1. We’ll save significant costs from the school budget in areas including printing and copying, paper consumption, and insurances – money that can be redirected also to improving the education of our children.
  1. We’ll be making a valuable contribution to creating a sustainable environment for our children, and their children.

Where now for ParentPaperwork?

We’re excited and enthused by the mission we have set ourselves. It has taken time and money to reach what at first glance might seem face-palmingly obvious, but it underlines the importance of taking time to properly consider the true needs of a market, especially one that offers a truly global opportunity like school education. Not matter where in the world the schools we have spoken to are located, they all share a common problem – antiquated paper-based processes that take up time, take up staff resource, and inhibit the modernisation of their administrative operations.

Take the example of a large independent school here in Melbourne. Some of their internal paper forms have a distribution list of ten people – when the paper form is completed, ten photocopies are made and dropped to the in-trays on the desks of ten people in the management team. It’s a crazy system, especially when we’re told it’s because “they like to all have a copy ‘just in case’”.

Shortly we’ll be officially announcing the availability of our new School Forms module. This substantially expands our platform’s functionality across a whole range of paper form scenarios in schools, and has come about as a direct result of working with our existing customers and many prospective users.

Indeed, our original idea for the School Forms module was kicked off by an email from an existing customer asking “would it be possible for staff to fill out an online form as well as a parent”. We gestated on that for a while, and then a few months ago other schools started to pose similar questions to us about various processes and functions in their school – registrations of interest for a place completed by prospective parents; incident reports filled out by school nurses; professional development requests submitted by teachers. Three months ago we sat down and seriously scoped out a response, and the resulting Schools Forms modules caters for all these use cases and more.

The new module is not a perfect response. We know it will generally answer many of the demands made by schools to us, but it will be a work in progress, like the entirety of our product platform. I know our learning will simply begin all over again as we roll out the new module to schools in Australia and overseas. However, I also know the feedback, ideas, criticisms and (hopefully) praise will only serve to further deepen our understanding so we can continue to innovate and disrupt traditional mindsets and methods in schools, and thus fulfil our mission and achieve our goal.

David Eedle
Co-Founder and CTO

Oakleigh Grammar: a case study

Oakleigh Grammar in Melbourne, Australia, was one of the first schools in the world to adopt ParentPaperwork’s online platform at the initial startup phase. Their faith in ParentPaperwork – and the subsequent benefits they’ve experienced by taking on the ParentPaperwork system – have got them singing our praises.

We spoke to Soula Mitsopoulos, Head of Senior School’s PA/VASS Administrator at Oakleigh Grammar, to discover exactly why they’re our number one fans.

Which aspect of ParentPaperwork prompted you to give the system a try?
It was the opportunity for immediate responses, and the ability to export all the required details into a convenient spreadsheet.

What are some of the best things that have happened since implementing ParentPaperwork at your school?
The increase in efficiency in collecting responses and information has been really notable. Also, that we are able to work with the ParentPaperwork team to improve our requirements, as well as get ideas to streamline the processes, means a lot to us.

What was the process of introducing ParentPaperwork into your current school management systems like?
We’re not a huge school (just over 600 students from ELC to Year 12) so the slips are prepared, sent out and the responses monitored by our admin staff. This meant that the internal introduction process was straight-forward. We wrote out to school families explaining how the new process would work prior to implementation.

We haven’t really had any problems using Parent Paperwork to speak of, to be honest. The transition was quite smooth.

How have parents and staff reacted to ParentPaperwork?
The teachers really appreciate not having to collect and chase up returned paper slips. And parents appreciate being able to respond online as soon as they get the notices/slips. Not having to rely on their children – particularly in the case of the younger ones – to remember to hand in a paper slip is a big thing.

What are the key benefits you have experienced? Have there been any unexpected benefits that you didn’t anticipate?
Definitely the reduction in staff time photocopying and in paper use, as well as the timeliness of receiving responses. The ability for our admin staff to answer parent questions regarding their responses without having to chase whomever was receiving paper replies is huge – also the ability to see at a glance who has responded, who has opened their email but not responded and who hasn’t even opened their email to know exactly who needs to be followed up.

What sort of savings are you seeing as a result of using ParentPaperwork? 
We’ve experienced savings in paper use, staff time in photocopying, teaching staff’s time collating returned slips and chasing up those not returned… They’re the main savings we’ve noted.

How important are environmental considerations to your school? How have you seen ParentPaperwork contributing to your school’s environmental goals?
Environmental considerations are very important to our school. ParentPaperwork is helping us to reduce our environmental footprint in the reduction of waste.

What would you say to other schools considering implementing ParentPaperwork into their school? Any handy tips?
I would say they definitely should do it! Parent Paperwork is easy to use, both in setting up and sending the slips then collecting, collating and reporting the information…

We’ve been using ParentPaperwork for over 12 months, and the excellent support and prompt service we get from the team at ParentPaperwork has made the whole process easy. We know we can rely on the system.

Feel free to visit Oakleigh Grammar online at oakleighgrammar.vic.edu.au

Click here for more information on ParentPaperwork.

Tweaks to the Form Template Builder in ParentPaperwork

We’ve added a couple of new features to the Form Template Builder in ParentPaperwork this week.

Editing Section Titles

Each Form Templates has usually two sections, in the case of Parent Slips the first section contains the fields filled out by the School; and the second is for the fields filled out by the Parent.

Until now these section titles have been set by default, but now users can update them.

Click the pencil icon at the right hand end of the section title, and a window will open for you to change the title.

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These titles display when staff are completing forms within ParentPaperwork, so it’s a help when they are reflective of the type of the information being captured on the particular template.

Read Only Labels in the School fields section

It has long been possible to create read only text blocks in the Parent fields section at the bottom of a Form Template, but we now have extended that to the School fields section – in fact we’re not quite sure why this wasn’t always possible 🙂

Start by dragging a new text field into the section, then click the pencil icon to edit. The pop up window includes a check box called ‘Read Only Label’.

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Tick the box, the default value field will be hidden, and the Field Required checkbox will be disabled (as it’s not applicable). Enter your text into the Field Name box and click the Update Field button.

In the design view you will see the new Label displayed.

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When you create a new Slip or Form from the template the text will be displayed.

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Each label can hold up to 500 characters, if you need to show larger amounts of text, just use multiple text fields on the Template.

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