Extra Help w/ Bookings

Given remote learning right now and students all around the world, I’m using Microsoft Bookings App to schedule student (online) math extra help. It’s an add-on that’s included with paid Office365, although you may have to convince your IT department to turn it on for you. (There are often a lot of apps that your school has actually paid for that your IT department either hasn’t turned on, or deliberately turned off!)

Bookings lets you set up time when you are free for Extra Help and lets the students (or parents) independently schedule a meeting with you during your specified free times (so you can say you’re open from 7-8pm for extra help, but if they want to book for 830, they can’t). And, if you already have a personal meeting in your Outlook, it will close that time from booking, too.

If you go to www.office.com and sign in with your school email, click in the Search box at the top of the screen and type bookings:

Microsoft Bookings icon is a style-ized “b”. If you don’t have the icon AND you can use the full version of Word, Excel, etc on your device from your school, then it’s very possible you can ask IT to turn it back on (Bookings is not available on the free Education plan, where you don’t get the full versions of Word, etc). There is no added cost to Bookings, and you are already paying for it if it’s there.

It is primarily made for businesses (picture “pet grooming” or “personal trainer”) so some of the language is a little non-academic.

You’re going to set up a NEW business … be sure to put your Name into the business name as this will be used in the Outlook appointments that get pushed out to both the student’s calendar and yours.

You could set this up on a Department or School basis (if not too large). You can then put all your staff in and students would have a one-stop-shop to arranging extra help.

First we’re going to set up our Bookings Page (where your students/parents will visit to book you).

A few pointers:

If you are going to include parents, do NOT click the “must have Office account from my organization” because then your parents can’t book. If you only want students, or if it’s peer tutoring, then you definitely want to have this option active (to avoid random strangers booking your students!)

Be sure to click “Send a Meeting Invite” so that your student gets a calendar entry in their calendar.

Pay attention to the very little “Set different availability for a date range” — this will let you remove Christmas or March Break from the calendar, or restrict booking to the weeks before/during Exams, say rather than all year.

The rest is up to you… I set it so they can’t book more than a week ahead of time, and they can’t book later than 2 hours before. You’ll figure out what works for you.

Save your changes!

Next, click on the STAFF option on the left side of the screen and then ADD STAFF:

Put in the teacher’s initials and then, in the box directly below the initials, use the lookup to find the teacher in your email system. I didn’t include a phone number and set myself up as Administrator — if you were doing Peer Tutoring with students, you’d set the students up as Viewers instead, so they couldn’t go in and play with the Staff information.

In the second column, set your general availability. Turn off “Business Hours” and then set up your weekly schedule — you’ll notice I’m free for math extra help on Mondays, Wednesday & Fridays from 7pm-8pm in my time zone. Remember — this is your GENERAL availability. If I accept an online Desmos PD and save the booking in my personal Outlook calendar on a particular Monday from 7:30-8:30, the Bookings app won’t let people book during that time on that Monday. So this space is your “maximum available hours” and you can still put aside your time by using your Outlook calendar to avoid anyone! And you can make any global changes here at any time and it will update automatically.

Be sure to hit the SAVE button at the top of the screen when done!

Now, set up the actual Service type (remember, pet groomer! Is it a big dog or a little dog or a cat?). In our case, there’s only Math Extra Help, but you could have them differentiate say, Essay Writing Workshop or Research Skills, if you’re an English teacher. Click on SERVICE on the left of the screen.

Be sure to click ONLINE MEETING so that you get a Teams Meeting set up for your appointment.

And I like having buffer time between meetings;, but that’s up to you.

And lastly, yes, set the price to Free! You could use this for a tutoring business but I’m sure your Department Head would want a cut.

Be sure to Save!

And then, get rid of the “Initial Consult” service that Microsoft has already provided. It’s only going to cause confusion.

Okay, we’re ready to go! Click on back to BOOKING PAGE and then click on OPEN PUBLISHED PAGE — this is what students/parents will see:

Notice it says ‘Select Staff” … in the dropdown, it only shows my name, since I’m the only staff. And at the very bottom, students who are remote and in a different time zone and change the time zone to see what my availability is in their time zone.

When they choose a time, they get an email (and a calendar invite, if you clicked on it) and you get an email and it automatically goes into your calendar as a booking, with the link to the Teams Meeting included! And, if you chose the option, the student/parent will get an email reminder in advance of the meeting to nudge them.

Let me know if this was useful. It’s a handy add-on that might prove effective.

Cal Armstrong
Cal Armstrong
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