Feb 05 2019

TCEA 2019: How One K–12 Principal Put Google Classroom to Work

The benefits of this platform aren’t limited to the classroom. Streamline administrative tasks with easier document sharing and collaboration.

Google Classroom has changed the game for teachers. Now, districts are discovering that it can be equally transformative for administrators, giving principals, teachers and staff a better way to manage the nuts-and-bolts tasks that keep schools running smoothly. 

Denise Neeb and Candace Tickle of the Lubbock Independent School District shared their success with Google Classroom at the annual Texas Computer Education Association Convention & Exposition in San Antonio. Neeb, the principal of Williams Elementary School, and Tickle, a digital learning specialist and Google Certified Trainer, presented “The Whole Ball of Wax: A Place for Everything,” on Monday.

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Google Classroom Proves a Robust Organizer for K–12 Resources

Neeb’s journey to Google Classroom started with a modest seed that was planted at last year’s TCEA convention. She attended a session and heard someone mention that they had put the platform to work outside the classroom — in the administrative suite. 

“That could work on my campus,” she thought. 

Plenty of Williams Elementary teachers already used Google Classroom to manage their teaching duties, but to Neeb, making the leap to using it in her role as a principal was an aha! moment. When the time was right to launch a new initiative, she tapped Tickle for help. 

Together, they brainstormed a list of possible ways they could deploy this tool at Williams. Neeb had three primary goals: organize her own creative ideas, so she could more effectively share them with her team; organize the many resources that teachers and staff use daily to carry out their duties; and support her staff by giving them a central, consistent and user-friendly way to access and share information.

As it turns out, Google Classroom has helped Neeb achieve all of her goals.

Today, Williams Elementary uses Google Classroom as an ultrapractical tool to manage all sorts of useful information: agendas, lesson plans, staff handbooks, a variety of forms, emergency call lists, new teacher information and more. 

“Everything is housed here,” Neeb said. “I know almost everyone at my campus is accessing this resource every day, including me.”

The old method was a mix of paper and cloud-based documents, but it didn’t work very well, Neeb and Tickle said. Teachers often had to make copies or track down physical documents, and even the electronic versions resided in a variety of places, with scattered ownership and no coordinated approach to access and sharing. Materials are now much more streamlined, Neeb said, and that saves valuable time.

“Teachers know there is one place to look — a hub or a landing spot,” said Tickle. “They know they don’t have to go anywhere else to find their information.” 

MORE FROM EDTECH: Google classroom updates K–12 teachers should know.

Teachers Save Time and Increase Collaboration on Google Platform

Because districts can devise limitless ways to use the platform, users could achieve any number of benefits. When Neeb and Tickle asked session attendees to come up with suggestions, they readily saw opportunities to use Google Classroom for staff shout-outs, as a weekly notice to prevent important information from being buried in email and as a separate group for principal collaboration.

For teachers, the shared platform is both a timesaver and a reassurance that they know where to find important information. “It reduces their fear of missing something,” Neeb says. 

For her school, the resources have become a “golden” asset on campus. Teachers ask her to put frequently accessed materials on the platform. 

From a leadership perspective, the project has another big benefit, Neeb says: It allows her to model technology use for teachers and demonstrate her own willingness to learn something new, embrace the learning curve and “fail forward.”

She admits that in the beginning, although she was familiar with Google Classroom, she hadn’t used it extensively. Asking for help from her resident experts went a long way, she said.

“I felt it gave me a sense of credibility with my staff because I’m asking them to use something, and I’m using it also,” Neeb said. As a principal who asks her teachers to innovate and to try new things in their classrooms, even when it feels risky, she wants to set the example. “I’m modeling that for them.”

Chrome Extension Supports G Suite Training for K–12 Educators

For administrators who want to put Google Classroom to work on their own campuses, Neeb and Tickle recommend taking advantage of online resources for help and identifying a go-to teacher, technologist or someone else who can help the project move forward.

Users can also download a Chrome extension for G Suite Training that will deliver videos and step-by-step help for users.

Beyond that, they suggested, simply accept the growing pains, ask for help and solicit ideas on how to use Google Classroom in your particular district. That was Neeb’s approach, and she said she’s thrilled with the results.

“I just jumped in and embraced it,” she said.

Keep this page bookmarked for articles from the event. Follow us on Twitter at @EdTech_K12 or the official conference Twitter account, @TCEA, and join the conversation using the hashtag #TCEA.

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