PT: Scheduling your first round of interviews

May 4, 2020

Running your first round of interviews can be somewhat daunting to begin with.  It’s a new system to learn and may take you a little while to learn the idiosyncrasies of this particular application.  Be assured however that we have designed SOBS to be easy to use and will give you as much help as we can to make your job as simple as possible.

We are going to assume that you have already signed up for a trial or a subscription of the Parent Booking application.

When you first login the application will prompt you for the year levels taught at your school.  Place a tick in each check-box next to each year level.

When you first login the application will also prompt you to load a staff list, if you don’t have any staff loaded.

Step 1 – Add a booking round

The first screen displayed is a list of booking rounds – if you are new the list will be empty however you will find a button at the bottom of the list called “Add a booking round” – click this button.

Enter the details for the new booking round:

  • Firstly you need to select the type of booking round you are wanting. If this is for normal parent/teacher interviews then you may select from one of the first three options in the list. The regular parent/teacher interviews will automatically configure most of the appropriate defaults for the booking round. You will be able to modify some of these later.
  • A description of the booking round might be “Semester 1 interviews” or “Mid-year interviews”
  • Click on the date field to display the popup calendar. Click the first date and then click the last date for the round. If the booking round is for a single date, then click the same date twice.
  • Save

Step 2 – Listing the booking rounds

You should now be looking at a list of booking rounds – if you have just added your first round then there should be exactly one booking round listed.

When you (and other staff) first login this is the normal landing page, listing the current booking rounds.

You can view and manage the configuration for a booking round by clicking on the row.

On the far right you will find three blue lines (this is the hamburger icon), clicking on this will show you a short menu of alternative options, like changing those dates you just selected, as well as deleting the booking round you have just created. You shouldn’t need these options just yet.

Step 3 – Configuring the booking round

This screen consists of a number of rows. Each row provides access to a particular part of the configuration, and generally we have arranged them in a logical sequence. For example, the first row is the “Main settings” which allow you to configure some basic options like the valid year levels.

If you don’t see the “Main settings” row then it may be that you don’t have the authority to access this information. Check your security with your SOBS administrator if you believe this is a problem.

Work you way down the page, checking each row in case you need to make any adjustments to the configuration.

  • Managers: By default you as the creator of the round will be a manager. You can add other staff as managers for this round.
  • Teachers selected by year level: This row give you quick access a list of staff and the year levels they teach. It’s very helpful to parents if the staff year levels are set correctly.
  • Shared teaching: Optionally you can define any classes where two or more teachers share the teaching. The teachers will still have their own unavailability. So when we list the time slots for a shared class we will include the names of the available teachers. If both teachers are available both names will display, if only one teacher is available only the one name will be displayed. This allows the parent to choose whether they are prepared to book the time despite perhaps only one teacher being available.
  • LOTE translators: Optionally you can indicate which languages you have translators available for. In this instance the parent can identify their preferred language, and when they book their interviews they will be able to book a translator for the same time (if one is available).
  • Additional messages: The parent interface has a number of locations where you can specify an additional message to be displayed. For example, on the staff selection page you can add a message in regard to teachers who may not be available due to long service leave.
  • Staff access: You can specify the date and time that staff will have access to this booking round. Prior to this time it will not appear on the list of booking rounds for regular staff. Staff will be able to make bookings on behalf of parents from this time, up to the actual time slot.
  • Parent access: Specify the date and time that parents will have access to the system.  Typically this will be a couple of weeks prior to the interview period, allowing parents plenty of time to organise themselves.  You will also specify a closing time, you can use either a fixed date/time or a floating close time.  Parents attempting to book early will see a message telling them when the booking round is available for booking. Parents attempting to book after the round is closed will see a message indicating the round has closed for booking.
  • Time slots: This row is to configure time slots shared by all staff. You will also be able to set the rule, whether the time slots are all shared, individually set by each staff member, or a mixture of the two. Lastly you will also select the time slot manager, normally yourself, meaning no other administrators will be able to change these shared settings.
  • Dinner break: Use this row to configure a dinner break for staff. You can configure rolling breaks or set time breaks. These are applied randomly to staff, and look a bit like unavailability, but we call them dinner breaks.
  • Push requests: When a teacher wants to send a specific request for an interview with a parent, you can add the details here. Staff also have access to this option, so they can enter the details themselves. It’s best to have all of the requests entered before posting them to the parents.
  • TEACHER OPTIONS: To manage an individual teacher’s time slots or bookings, then select them from this list. When selected the next two rows will show the teacher’s name and the number of time slots / bookings. Click on the relevant row to manage the staff member’s time slots, unavailability, and bookings.
  • Reports: Run reports on the booking information, ie View by staff, View by parent, View by time, etc.
  • Exports: Export the booking information to a CSV format.
  • Email/SMS: Send email/SMS messages to involved parents or staff.
  • Help articles: Some help information you can share with parents and staff.

Step 4 – Parent access and your testing

Before allowing parents to access the system you can perform a test run. From the left hand menu select ‘Parent access’. Click the ‘Make a parent booking’ button.

  1. Your SOBS session is temporarily suspended and you are now prompted with a screen similar to what parents will see, however the application still understands that you are an authenticated staff member.  At any time you can return to your SOBS session by clicking the ‘Restore staff session’ in the left hand menu.
  2. Continue with your testing (pretending to be a parent) to ensure the correct teacher lists are appearing along with other messages and options.
  3. At the end of the your test click the ‘Restore staff session’ to restore your SOBS session.

Click on ‘Parent access’ in the left hand menu.  Listed at the beginning of this screen is the URL for parents to access your system.

  1. The URL option can be supplied to parents, however we recommend that you include this URL as a link on your school’s website, so you simply ask parents to visit your school website and then follow the link to the Parent Booking system.
  2. The same link is used for all booking rounds, so whether it is for the Parent/Teacher interview, or for an enrolment interview, a subject selection interview, course counselling, booking for an event, a uniform shop booking, volunteering at a school event, or booking meetings to see the school principal or counsellor, it is always the same URL.

There are many other features that we have skimmed over, our intention here is to get your first booking round running and we hope we have helped you to achieve this goal !