September 4, 2017

Training in Google Classroom is not the easiest thing. Lots of people do professional development in Classroom, but there is very little available on the internet on how to set up a training session. My first session with the staff as a whole (50 people) was a huge disappointment. Not only was a chaos for most of time (teachers really are the worst students) and they were not halfway as impressed with Classroom as I was, we also didn’t get to do a quarter of the things I wanted to do.

The next time I tried to do it in small groups, getting them to create their classes. This time the problem was that since there were no learners in the class. So the teachers could not get the feel for interacting on Classroom.

Desperate, I got somebody in to do Professional Development. It is always great to have an outsider, to give a different perspective. It gave the staff a feel for Classroom from the learners perspective, but they walked out overwhelmed because they did not know how to create a lesson like the one they just did.

You can only really get to know it if you experience it both as a teacher and as a learner. I taught myself by creating a second account and opening it in an Incognito window. (Google Classroom only allows you to be logged into one account at a time)

This is a bit complicated for teachers who are not very confident on a computer. Even I sometimes struggled, because the two windows look so similar. I had to keep on checking if I was the student or the teacher.

I have kept the demo account and still use it to pop in as a student once in a while, to see how it looks from a student perspective. It is also handy when you want to show the learners how to do something.

After all these options met with limited success, I spent a lot of time over the summer holiday to find a way to combine the best of all these sessions. Today I tried again and at last I seemed to be successful. Instead of training the whole group. I divided them into pairs (or groups of 3) and they took turns being the student and the teacher. I provided each group with a printed list of assignments that they had to do, while I walked around helping where necessary. I found that the 4-5 groups are the maximum that I could handle in one session.

It was not perfect, but definitely the best yet. They spend between 60 and 90 minutes hard at work. One of the teachers were exclaiming after an hour, “I am so tired of concentrating!” (I wonder how kids do that for 6 hours a day – something to think about) Those who are more computer literate were paired up with the less confident ones. I was also a perfect opportunity to model active learning and a student centred classroom.

Another advantage was that the teachers who could not make the training could pair up on their own time and work through the activity.

Tomorrow I will give more details about the session.

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