Ahhh, PLC’s, better known as Professional Learning Communities. At my school, we hold grade-level PLC’s once a week to share ideas, collaboratively plan, get advice about struggles in our classrooms, and coordinate grade-level events for parents and students. There’s so much information shared at these meetings that it can get overwhelming. And let’s be honest, teachers already get a mountain of emails so sharing minutes and other information this way just means it will get buried.
Trust Me, I’m (sort of) a Professional
As kindergarten team leader, communicating with all teachers and streamlining our way of work were my 2 main tasks. We were already having the good conversations in our PLC’s, but we weren’t really doing anything with what we’d learned or shared. Shared files would get lost in emails, meeting minutes would go unread, and our action plans would be neglected and deadlines missed. We all had the best of intentions…just not a system to make them happen.Sound like a team you’ve been part of?
By my 3rd year as team leader, it was clear that we needed to try something new. Thankfully, I work with some really amazing, flexible, and open-minded teachers who buy-in to my crazy ideas. Also thankfully, this idea worked! 😉
I work in a Microsoft district, so Google Apps for Education is not an option for us like it might be for many of you. HOWEVER, the Microsoft Office 365 team has some bomb alternatives to GAFE, and Microsoft Teams is my new favorite. When it comes to organizing my kindergarten team, Microsoft Teams was exactly what we needed and it totally transformed our way of work.
What is Microsoft Teams? – It’s basically a digital hub that allows people in your “team” to quickly message each other, upload and edit files, keep track of to-do lists, and manage a shared calendar. By being part of that team, members can quickly access all their important files in one, organized place rather than navigating thorough all the apps separately (Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, etc.).
What you see above is what the main screen that comes up every time I log-in to our team. The main view shows the ongoing conversation between team members, which we use to message one another quick reminders or questions. This feed also shows when team members upload documents and share files so it’s easy to keep track of things going on.
From there, you can also access the different apps your team uses. As you can see, there are A LOT of options. Everything from Microsoft Word to YouTube to FlipGrid and beyond!
Now, keep in mind – This was our first year using Teams so I tried to keep things simple. I limited it to 3 apps to start off based on our needs:
- OneDrive – so we could easily share files like parent notes, homework sheets, etc.
- OneNote – where we posted all of our meeting minutes
- Planner – where I housed our team’s “To Do” list
It kind of goes without saying that nothing is entirely perfect the first time around and we definitely had our growing pains finding things at first. However, once we all got the process down, there were no more lost meeting minutes and no more file or reminder emails clogging up our inboxes. All in all, I’d say it was a pretty big success. 🙂
Already using Teams or looking to try it out for the coming school year? Share your thoughts below!