If I haven’t made it known yet, I LOVE DATA. Data allows us to make informed decisions as well as provide documentation. One way I collect data is documenting every time I interact with a student or parent. Literally. It may seem like a hassle if you are not used to collecting this much data, but if you set up your documentation system, it will be a breeze!
I got the idea of collecting this data on a Google Form from a colleague of mine, but I adapted it to be consistent for a school psychologist or school social worker. It has been SO helpful when there is a question about the number of times I have met with a student, how much time I have spent with a student, etc. If you see students for minutes, you could add another checkbox for that. For middle school or high school, I include class periods. I use this to track patterns of the frequency a student sees me (e.g., every Friday for the last two periods of the day).
Why don’t I have more information on the form? I don’t keep “student files.” The sole purpose of collecting this data is to document who I see, when I see them, and how often I see them. I will include a BRIEF note to jog my memory. Why? The more information you add, the more you are susceptible to all sorts of trouble (FOIA, potentially failure to implement Child Find, etc.). Keeping it brief is consistent with my philosophy of keeping student files. I don’t.
When I am working on an evaluation, I use plastic file folders. After I am done collecting information, the findings go into a report. As a school psychologist, the protocols belong to the district; I send all completed protocols to the district office for them to store. Any data that I collect is collected for a purpose. Once I am done or have documented that purpose, there is no need for me to keep that note. When I am finished with the evaluation, I can reuse the file folder on another student.
Why do I not keep student files? I only document/write information that I would be 100% confident in defending. After one too many records requests, I am always relieved that I don’t have to dig through files and determine what information I have to provide and what is considered a “personal note.” My district can pull emails and documents off the server, so there is nothing left for me to do!
Back to data collection. If you have a google account, you can force copy the form by clicking HERE. After you collect your data, you can highlight all of your responses and create a pivot table (see this How-To) to count the times you saw each particular student and for how long.
I would love to hear your thoughts!