Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Using Google Classroom for Staff Communications

image from classroom.google.com
Earlier today I was asked by an administrator:
"Is there a way to use Google Classroom for staff communications?"
My answer: "yes, Yes, YES!!!"

Google Classroom is a GREAT tool to create a private school environment to share documents, ideas, and announcements with staff!

UPDATE: Google Classroom will be updating this summer. I'm told that if you create a Google Classroom environment prior to the rollout of the update you'll have to use the old version all year long. However, you can sign up to be a beta tester and gain early access to the new features. It takes about a week for approval, but it's worth it! The beta-test program has ended.

Ideas for using Classroom with staff

Here are some ideas you might consider:

  1. Enrolling Staff: Set up a Google Classroom environment and either enter all of the names of your staff, or email them the class code to self-enroll
    1. Create separate Classroom "classes" for each grade level, team or department, then post items to multiple "classes" ...OR... 
    2. Create a single Classroom "class" for the school, and post items to specific "students" if needed
  2. Add Assistants as Co-Teachers so they can post, too. This is a nice way to demonstrate shared leadership in larger schools. 
  3. Remember that each time you create a Classroom environment you also create 
    1. a shared Google Drive folder that holds all documents you post, 
    2. a shared Google Calendar that appears for all of your "students"
    3. an email every time you post something to the Stream
    4. a backchannel that allows your "students" to post comments and reply to others who comment
    5. an easy way to email staff from the Students page
  4. Use the About page to post documents that teachers will need to refer to all year long (Think permission slips, handbooks, etc.)
    1. UPDATE: The About page changed with the summer update (after this post was originally published). HOWEVER, we can now post RESOURCES related to any TOPIC on the Classwork page! This would be a great place for school forms, documents, etc.! 
  5. Use an Announcement to post weekly staff bulletins as a Google Doc - or even a YouTube video!  
    1. Staff will then receive an email with a link each time you post
    2. You can schedule the announcement to appear at a regular time, and just update the Google Doc as needed throughout the week
  6. Use an Assignment to distribute materials that staff must address
    1. This is a great way to flip your staff meetings! 
    2. You can instruct staff to "Turn In" an assignment by a due date you set as evidence of having viewed/read material prior to a meeting
  7. Use the Create Question feature to get quick feedback from staff
  8. Create different Topics for posts to allow for quick access to various posts, like...
    1. Weekly Bulletin
    2. Policy/Procedure
    3. Staff Meeting
    4. School Improvement Plan
    5. Climate & Culture
    6. ... etc... each school is different, so make topics to reflect your needs!


The amazing Alice Keeler has an extensive list of Google Classroom ideas, and has written a book that I highly recommend: 50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom.

Here's a great blog post entitled "Meet Your Staff Where They Are: Streamlining with Google Classroom" that looks at some other aspects of this idea.

Here's a great YouTube Video showing how a school principal in Kentucky implemented the concept. (screencast starts at about the 19 min 30 sec point)

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