3 Ways for #EdTech Coaches to Communicate with G Suite for Education

In my previous post, I shared some thoughts about the importance of edtech coaches to be an effective and efficient communicator. Strong communication skills, coupled with building relationships, creates a very strong foundation for success in working with teachers and students.

Since many school systems use G Suite for Education already, I thought I’d keep this post under that umbrella and share a few ways you can more effectively communicate and share information with teachers and staff.

Boomerang for Gmail
This is one of my favorite Chrome extensions for Gmail. Boomerang for Gmail has many great functions like the ability to schedule your emails ahead of time (which is great for working ahead to create regularity to your communication efforts), and you can “boomerang” them for yourself to temporarily get it out of your inbox until a later date. Also, you can set it up so if the receiver does not reply to or open your email within a given time frame it will automatically get sent to them again.

 

Boomerang for Gmail adds a “Send Later” button when you compose a message.

After you install Boomerang for Gmail you will need to refresh your inbox, and then authorize Boomerang to access your Google account.

Note: I use the free version of Boomerang for Gmail. There are paid options but I’ve never felt the need to have that. Thanks to Jeff Bradbury for the reminder! 

Google Classroom
I know Google Classroom isn’t new anymore, but it doesn’t have to be used only with students. Technology coaches can create “classes” for different buildings that are focused on edtech PD, ideas, and resources for teachers to access. If we’re going to be at a particular building working with teachers on a given day, the space for those teachers in Classroom is a quick and easy way to share slides, links, or other materials they need to be an active participant in their learning. It can also be used to create discussion activities and post questions to receive professional development feedback.

A newer feature in Google Classroom that is great for organizing your communication is the ability to create topics. Any type of post you create can be tagged with a particular topic, which will make it easier for teachers to find previous resources you have posted.

Google Forms
Part of being a strong communicator as an edtech coach is making the time to understand your learners’ needs prior to meeting with them; whether that’s 1 teacher or a group of 20 teachers. Creating a Google Form is a great way to do this. Sure, you could email the group and collect replies, but who wants more emails in their inbox? Sending out a quick form as a “needs assessment” is a great way to help you feel more prepared heading into the meeting. The more you know beforehand, the better prepared you’ll be and your teachers will really appreciate the learning being tailored to their needs. Even if your topic isn’t yet decided, a form is a great way to provide teachers with a “menu” of options to seek input and give them a voice in their professional development.

Bonus! Bitmoji for Gmail
Earlier in the post when I mentioned Boomerang for Gmail, you might have noticed in my screenshot that “Bitmoji” Kyle made an appearance. 🙂 If you haven’t delved into the world that is Bitmoji you should definitely check it out. It allows you to create a fun “cartoon” style version of yourself. The Bitmoji Chrome Extension can add some fun to not only your texts but you can insert the Bitmoji version of yourself right into your emails too. If you produce a weekly or monthly edtech newsletter, you can also use the extension to insert your Bitmoji into a Google Doc or Slides presentation too.

 Disclaimer: while Bitmoji is definitely a fun way to communicate there are some that are not school appropriate.

There are certainly lots of other great tools for communication but I wanted to share a few of my favorites that fall under the Google umbrella. What are your favorite communication tools?

 

 

Help Me Help You

If you’re an instructional technology coach, instructional technology specialist, educational technologist, or whatever edtech coaching title you may have, a crucial skill in the work of supporting teachers is being a good communicator. It’s essential. It must be a regular, well thought, purposeful component of the job.

a few megaphones over a blue sky
https://www.flickr.com/people/paulbrigham/

A quick email or Google Form can give you just the right information you need ahead of working with teachers, administrators, or support staff. The more you know ahead of time not only helps you be better prepared, but also helps you make the learning more relevant for your audience. It doesn’t matter if it’s one teacher or a big group; invest the time to reach out, learn their needs, and be prepared to meet those needs to the best of your ability. This includes providing necessary information to help your audience be best prepared to learn.

For those of you that are receiving the communication mentioned above, please take the time to help us better help you. We want you to feel like your time with us was worth it. It’s important you have successful learning experiences because that means giving our students better learning experiences.

I hope to expand on some communication tips and tricks in future posts!

 

Inundation Does Not Create Innovation

My job is to support teachers with technology integration. Sometimes it’s technology that they’ve learned from me, and sometimes it’s technology they have sought out on their own via a conference, Twitter, a colleague, or some other avenue. I really enjoy sharing new tech tools with teachers. It’s important for teachers to be equipped with a reasonable amount of options for how they can infuse more technology into teaching and learning. The end goal is to positively impact student achievement. That should be the #1 driver of anything we do with technology. I want to help build teachers’ capacity so that they leverage technology to bring innovative learning experiences to students.

I’ve discovered through my experiences being the provider of support and a facilitator of learning opportunities, that teachers don’t like to feel overwhelmed any more than students do. That is certainly the last thing I want a teacher to feel. A barrage of too many edtech tools will leave teachers feeling confused as to which one is best and without a clear plan of action going forward. It can feel like you’re trying to take a drink from a fire hose. In my role I follow a simple rule: If I’m sharing it with you, that means I’ve vetted it and it’s worth your time.

firehose
https://www.flickr.com/people/cne-cna-c6f/

If a teacher is initially overwhelmed with this firehose style delivery, it can cause real damage to that teacher’s willingness to try out new tech. ~Kerry Gallagher

Why do so many conferences and other professional learning events offer so much of the “firehose” style experience?  You can easily see it with a quick glance over any conference program. We see so many sessions like “842 edtech tools in 60 minutes” (I admit this is exaggerated) or “72 ways to use Google Forms in your classroom”. I sincerely appreciate the willingness to share, but is that what’s best for teachers that want to become comfortable with new ideas?

If you’re leading professional development you have to be cognizant of your audience’s needs and make sure to have adequate sandbox time sprinkled throughout.

If you were having students create a multimedia presentation we wouldn’t throw an unnecessary amount of tool options their way. We’d give them a few and if they find others and want to give one a go that’s great too. I’m all for options and not being locked into just one way to show mastery, but I think an overabundance of options doesn’t make for a good learning experience for teachers either.

Less is more, right?