Monday, December 30, 2013

Maternity Leave and Hangouts

11th grade English is tough enough on its own. Throw in maternity leave at the beginning of the second semester and the concerned teacher will understandably fret about the end of course test. This problem can be mitigated with the use of Google Hangouts.


I am the assistant principal at Westside High School in Jonesboro, Arkansas. We are a small school with 650 students in grades 8-12. It just so happens that this school is my alma mater. Consequently a few of my childhood friends also teach at this school and a few of my former teachers (talk about an evaluation nightmare). That being said, my teachers and I have a great amount of trust with each other. Heather Eggers our 11th grade English teacher and I went to school together and are still great friends. She is one of the technology leaders at our school and has really found her groove using Google Apps for Education. She has completely changed the way she assigns work through the use of Google Docs and Google Drive. It is quite simple and amazing to watch our students really work in a paperless, device neutral environment. All was going well and then her and her husband Josh had wonderful news. They are having a baby boy, soon to be named Ellis Eggers. The only problem is that she is due January 25th. Her second thought after expressing the joy of her new son was "how in the world are my students going to be prepared for the end of course exam." She said that her students are doing great with Google Apps and she just didn't know how she could be out that long without her students losing ground with their reading and writing assignments. She is a great teacher and a substitute just would not be fair.

Here is the trust part. We have designed a schedule of Google Hangouts that will allow Mrs. Eggers to visit her students weekly. She will basically run the class from home. All assignments are still being turned in via a system of Google Drive folders. This allows her to assess the work and give feedback to the students. With the added bonus of her coming into each class once per week. The substitute's role will be to facilitate, monitor and basically call roll during the classes. Students already have their assignments, rubrics and methods for turning them in.  The substitute will be trained by me on how to get this started and what her roll will be. Upcoming post will highlight the good, bad and ugly of this project. Hopefully students will keep connected with their teacher and produce quality work even when she is out of the room. The detailed schedule and assignments will be posted as we get moving.

For more Google Apps insight check out my book Google Apps Meets Common Core