Bill_Burke_360It is the beginning of the year and the stream of paperwork and returned forms is starting to pile up on your desk. How can you keep track of it?

In my guitar classes students must return a student data sheet, a student parent agreement, an instrumental rental contract, a check for fees, and a booster membership paper. That is five items per student, and oh yeah, by the way, you still must prepare and teach lessons! Here is what I do to streamline the process:

1. Make friends with the IT person in your school. My IT representative helped me set up an online student data form that lists all parental contact information. The student submits this to me electronically via blackboard (24/7 learning). This saved me so much time; now I don’t have to copy email addresses from a form into my computer. (Hint – send a welcoming email to all the parents after the forms are in – they love to hear from you when their child is doing well!)
2. The three hard copy form to be returned can be printed from the computer at home.
a. The student parent agreement – this form states that both the parent and student have read through the guitar handbook; each signs the form.
b. The instrumental rental contract – in my school we have classroom guitars with shared usage. Each student pays a fee to reserve a certain guitar for the year; the student then feels a sense of responsibility for the guitar. Both the student and parent sign the contract.
c. The booster membership form is an optional organization that parents may join; the form is on line.
d. A check for fees also must be returned.
3. Keep track of forms in your grading book. Most schools use an electronic grading system like IG Pro. For each class I set up tasks in IG Pro for each of the 5 items listed above that must be returned. The tasks can carry little or no points towards the student’s grade, but there before your eyes you can track who owes what.
4. Put a box on the corner of your desk for students to deposit the forms during class and then you can record them in your computer after class.
5. If a student does not have computer access, I send hard copies of forms home with them and also allow them access to a classroom computer to submit the student data form.

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