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Maintaining Community and Collaboration: Using G-Suite in your School Community

02 Apr 2020   |   Lucie Martin   |   Elements Primary School

I remember my feelings when I was told that my school would be a Google Reference school. ‘I don’t understand. I thought Google was just a search engine? What else could possibly be involved?’

Then, after this train of thought, came the realisation that Google would be the only framework in which we worked as a school. Those initial feelings only multiplied. Now, just a couple of years and two Google Certifications later, I honestly believe that Google for Education is transformational to ensuring an outstanding quality of education, and I cannot imagine using anything else.

We find ourselves in ‘unprecedented times’, and schools are facing the challenge to enable learning to be digital to all. I’m sure most people reading this will have been involved in a similar process in your own schools and communities. You may feel like I do now: excited, hopeful, determined.

You may, however, feel like I did two years ago at the start of my G-Suite journey: confused, bewildered, nervous. Each role and responsibility we have looks different.

Some may feel that moving to a digital world is daunting. My biggest piece of advice is this: embrace it. I can promise you that the benefits of doing so are worth it. Below, I will outline quickly just three ways G-Suite will enable you to not only maintain a high quality provision for your learners, but will improve and develop your pedagogy and practice.

1. Collaborating as a Staff Team through G-Suite
Using G-Suite for Education is excellent when working on a shared project. Not only that; it is highly efficient. Tools such as Google Meet enable members of teams to discuss and plan together. Other tools like Google Keep allow staff to share notes and ideas. Google Jam Board makes, quite literally, an interactive canvas for various roles to add to, edit and develop. Everyone feels that their voice is valid and heard, and there is always room for growing ideas and creativity. The ability to share any form of document with a colleague and for them to live-edit with you, allows for peer-support and development, and ensures no-one is re-inventing a wheel or duplicating work unnecessarily. Even whilst people are working in different sites, everyone remains connected.

2. Growing Collaborative Learners through Classroom
It has been a huge joy to see children actively involved on Google Classroom. Learners are able to complete assignments and tasks
that have been designed specifically for them, as well as stay in touch with their
peers and other families in the community. Children have become real team-players through Classroom and have been massive supporters of each other’s learning and progress.

 

Google Classroom has developed each child in their resilience and has undoubtedly grown their digital literacy; each learner is
able to work independently and interdependently with their friends, sharing videos and pictures of what they have completed and sending messages of encouragement to their class-mates. It has also allowed a direct line between children and their teachers. This has been a huge benefit, especially during this period.

3. Engaging with a Collaborative Community in Wellspring
Being part of a digital world has meant that all of our communities, regardless of provision-type or geography, are able to connect.
These times have seen the evolution of ‘ConnectEd’, a trust initiative designed to support synergy and community across Wellspring.
The ability to speak to other practitioners facing similar challenges, and the availability to take part in ‘Masterclass’ sessions that are
not only high-quality but also highly relevant to the work that we do, is invaluable.

This particular initiative has been a key reminder that we are not alone in our challenges and there are like-minded practitioners.

4. Embracing the Change
I think the most exciting prospect of schools moving towards a digital world for teaching and learning, is the thought that this can
be the new normal. Everything that I have highlighted is not just a benefit for the period of partial-closure and uncertainty. The need
for collaboration within our community is just as paramount as it was before, and will continue to be as we look towards the future.
G-Suite for Education does not just have to be a ‘quick-fix’ during this time. Instead, it can add long-lasting efficiency to the way we
work and can bring out the best in our learners.

To those that may be feeling hesitant towards this change; it will be great. Embrace it, ask for help, and remember that it doesn’t all have to be worked out in a day. I can assure you, however, that doing so will bring out the best in you as a practitioner. It certainly did for me.

 

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