Personalize Your Profile in G Suite #GoogleEDU

The term “personalized learning” is becoming more and more present in our schools. It’s important to do. Technology allows us to create personalized learning paths, differentiate, and give students options to demonstrate their understanding in ways that are more accessible and user-friendly than ever before.

It may sound trivial, but a great way to personalize for your students is by customizing how they see their teacher in these various learning environments. It’s easy to do, and it adds some nice personalization for when you’re interacting with your students online.

G Suite Profile

I see so many teachers that do not have a profile picture on their Google account. If you don’t have a profile picture on your account, the default is the first letter of your first name. If you’ve never put a profile picture on your account I highly encourage you to do so. Remember, your profile picture appears across all of G Suite: Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Classroom, YouTube, Blogger, Keep, Sites, Google+, etc. For example, if you’re leaving a student some feedback in something they wrote in Docs, it adds nice personalization for them to see your smiling face along with your words. Or, if you’re emailing students or parents, it’s nice to see a profile picture along with your message. If you’re using Google Classroom, students see you in the banner of the class as well as with anything you post. If you don’t want to use a picture of yourself, use the Bitmoji version of yourself!

Adding text where it matters

There’s places where text is important across some G Suite apps as well. How about that signature in Gmail? I still see teachers and principals that don’t do this and it’s so easy. We want to know what school you’re at and what your role is! It looks professional and students and parents will appreciate it.

What about the “About” tab in Google Classroom? This is a great place to put more information about you and about your class. Students like knowing that their teachers are actual human beings outside of school. Share some things with your students about who you are as a person instead of them just knowing you as their teachers.

The same holds true with Google Sites and Blogger. If you’re using either of these to create a classroom website, are you putting an “About the teacher” page there? Again, showing your students who you are away from teaching doesn’t only make things more personal, it shows students and parents more about you which is great for making connections and building positive relationships.

Where to start

Going to https://myaccount.google.com/ is where you can always go to change your profile picture or any other settings related to your G Suite account. You only have to change your profile picture in this one spot and then it will appear across all of the Google tools.

screenshot of Kyle's my account page

Other educational apps

We have a myriad of educational apps and websites to use with our students to personalize learning. Any of these that allow you to add a profile picture and/or “about me” information, I would encourage you to add this level of personalization. It’s quick, easy, and it shows your students who you are.

Maybe if we do more little things like this to show our students who we are, they’ll feel more comfortable expressing to us who they are. This isn’t only great for their learning, but for their development as people too.

 

 

 

Parents as #Edtech Partners

A partnership with parents is critical to all success in our schools and classrooms; technology or not. There’s always a barrage of initiatives and events; academic, extracurricular, athletic, or otherwise. Looking specifically through the lens of technology, however, we must pay careful attention to the partnerships we’re hopefully already forming with our parents. With all the 1:1 implementations, STEM, apps, devices, etc. we’re giving kids access to, we must constantly be assessing where parents are at in terms of a foundational understanding of what this means for their child(ren).

I have said many times in talks and workshops I’ve given that I believe

https://www.flickr.com/people/medfieldtech/

parents are the most underserved group in education. Is it solely a school district’s job to educate parents about technology, social media, digital citizenship, etc.? Of course not. As a parent myself, I still need to first and foremost be a diligent parent and make time to check my daughter’s phone, ask lots of question, and embarrass her in public as often as possible. 🙂 However, the more access to the world and devices we provide students to have that access, we must create not only learning opportunities for staff, but for the parents as well.

So, what are some ways we can do this? I have seen some very successful parent learning nights around technology, STEM, and digital citizenship. Guess what? The best ones weren’t led by teachers, they were led by kids! Yes, elementary students too. Put the planning in students’ hands. Ask them to come up with the agenda of what their parents need to know about Chromebooks, iPads, G Suite, Chrome, this app, that app, etc. Have the students share about what good online collaboration looks like, what it means to be a good digital citizen, and show examples of the amazing things technology allows them to create and learn about.

This is all called being proactive instead of reactive about #edtech. Create learning opportunities for parents before something negative happens. It makes those difficult conversations (about negative topics) a bit easier and students have more ownership of technology’s place in teaching and learning.

Inviting Students to Learn Alongside Teachers

This past Monday, I had the privilege of facilitating a day-long workshop around YouTube and the power of video in the classroom. I had found out beforehand that my audience was going to be half teachers, half students. I had certainly worked with students before but I think this was the first time they were truly “attending” something I was leading. I felt good about the workshop going in, but I did have in the back of my mind a bit of nervousness (I always do, students or not) about how it would go with students being there. I love teaching on this topic so I wanted to make sure what I was sharing was applicable to teachers and students both.

The high school students that joined their teachers were outstanding. Not only did they fully engage with me by asking great questions and participating, they felt comfortable enough to help me out with helping their teachers throughout the day. It made me wonder, “What if we did this more often?”.  What if we allowed students to sit down and learn alongside teachers? What if we allowed students to actually lead professional development? Many of the edtech topics I frequently see presented could be equally as applicable to students and I’m sure students could come up with some great topics to teach us too. How about we create more opportunities for them?

student helping a teacher