Integrating Google into Our Admin Function

personal   One of the major shifts we’re making this year is our use of Google. Cumberland County Schools is a Google district was already a Google district before I joined July 2012. We have most of our functions tied into the Google Cloud or at least available in the cloud. I’ve only been with Cumberland, @cumberlandcosch, since July 2012 but I’ve been a fan of Google since I’ve started shifting my thinking and practice. You can see obvious efforts from county administrators make to utilize Google tools whenever possible to save on meetings and phone calls by using some tools like the chat, surveys and forms.

   Specific for our school, we’ve had to make efforts to replace previous practices with Google tools. I haven’t approached this with a specific plan [which of course in hindsight would have helped the school more] but in my meeting groups, we have transitioned to some of these tools for production and archiving purposing. Our weekly Leadership meeting is great example. Every Monday, the school’s leadership team meets to discuss the upcoming week, set some expectations and plan for upcoming conversations and events. We created a meeting template in a shared folder on Drive and post our meeting notes including details discussed and persons responsible for activities. It is taking some time but the norm is slowly and steadily being built that Google is a part of this process.

   Some of the benefits of integrating Google into our practices that I envision realizing include:

  • Making the planning efforts of some of our groups more transparent
  • Archiving talks and plans
  • Flattening the administrative approach
  • Creating a paperless environment
  • Allowing the staff to participate in a collaborative process we need to create for students 

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 Talks on Google+

 I‘m proud to share that my admin team has began to use Google+ as a tools for pre-planning and communication. I don’t have to share with you all that there isn’t enough time of the day to get it all done. Getting the team together for a quick 15 minute meeting over the weekend to discuss an important item we missed or a last minute detail makes a huge difference in being prepared for the upcoming week. We stay in touch regularly with email and text messages but the planning platform of video and embedded Drive form when needed make a huge difference. 10 minutes of a Google+ chat eliminates 30+ minutes of text messages/emails.

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   I‘m fortunate that there are already experts in the building who can help with the training and understanding. We will begin developing and rolling out a plan specific to what types of information we will put on school wide and department drives and discuss the management of our plan. Getting organized from the beginning of the year will help with our school’s functions, efficiency and support to teachers.

Connecting with Community – 21st Resources

I’ve been an administrator in several districts. One of the many resources used to connect and share information with our parents and community is the call out system. Call out systems are standard protocol in school districts. Its a great way to make sure our stakeholders are kept current on school happenings using a popular medium.

My current district uses a connection system called ParentLink. I expected this to be like most of the other systems I’ve used before with a lot of similar features. During the training, that’s how it started to look but there is one great feature ParentLink has that has made a world of difference in use and implementation – an app!

I use this app on my Droid phone and iPad regularly. The app makes a world of difference. For other call out systems, I’ve had to use a computer in tandem with a phone to send a message out. These were simple combinations – use the computer to select the delivery time and audience and the phone to record the message. The app makes is this a lot easier by making this a one stop shop. From my phone or iPad, I can record a message, select and audience and delivery time. The interface makes this an easy process as well.

Digital Divide Experience

I love this app! Compared to earlier systems, the apps really make our job easy. I communicate this to my APs regularly. Its funny to see our different approaches and enthusiasm about this tool though. They are both beginning their great careers and haven’t had years of experience with the previous systems so their appreciation of these new features is not as full as mine. To them, its just another app or tool they have on their phone or iPad to use. They have learned it and know how to use it and make call outs when they have to.  I almost view this as a liberating tool and enjoy the new freedom it provides.

Despite our different enthusiasm levels, its exciting to see that companies are responsive to the needs of school systems.  I applaud efforts companies make to be provide 21st solutions and resources to reflect changing needs. And .., its fun to play with apps ; )