My Favorite Teachers

Categories: Philosophy, The Classroom
Comments: 2 Comments
Published on: June 8, 2015

My favorite teachers ask questions.

The day we stop learning is the day we stop living, and that’s especially critical for teachers. Not just learning in their field, but in their classroom, about their students, about teaching, and yes, about technology.

Today, one of our teachers sat down with me to learn more about using Google Classroom and Google Apps in class. He’s one of our veteran teachers, not particularly tech savvy. He told me, “I could retire, but I don’t want to yet, and I want to be the best teacher I can be.” We’re going forward with a Chromebook 1:1/BYOT hybrid next year, and he wants to be ready for it.

I was blown away.

Not because it was him doing the asking, but because he’s the first teacher in my ten years with the district to do so. Sure, a few have called me to their room for some refreshers, but he is the first teacher to ask for one-on-one instruction in the Summer after they’ve all clocked out for the school year.

He worried about imposing on my time, and to be honest, many of the others do, too. I’m running a one-man show across three buildings with a wide variety of devices and tasks that larger districts assign a tech staff to. But he asked, and I told him, by all means, come on in.

We spent over an hour together. I took him on a tour of Google Classroom and Docs, and we did some hands-on training with him building a class and me opening and submitting assignments as a student. We also touched on Drive, and we used Flubaroo to grade a Google Form. He took notes along the way, and at the end we agreed to sit down again in a couple of weeks: he would play with things and come up with questions, and maybe we’d look at something else new as well.

I loved every minute of it. This is the part of the job I feel is key. Keeping the servers running and the computers working is one thing, but this is the part that impacts student learning. If all goes well, he’ll be able to do new things with students, and the students will get to work that much more with technology. Win-win.

My favorite teachers ask the questions that help them improve. My favorite teachers are curious, learning technology because they want it to make them better, because they trust that it can help them in the long run, not because they have to fulfill an evaluation obligation or tick a checkbox in a certification form.

Even the self-motivated tech learners like Steve Hayes will find something to ask me, because they’re hungry to learn more and occasionally they get tripped up by the technology itself. They’re my favorite teachers because they’re not too embarrassed (or are willing to be embarrassed) to ask for help, just like their students who may meet roadblocks in their classrooms.

Technology is changing. Teaching is changing. Our students are changing, and the world is changing. If we don’t work together, we’re never going to keep up.

If we can’t keep up with today, our students will never be prepared for tomorrow.

Accept Any File in Google Classroom

Categories: Media, The Classroom
Comments: Comments Off
Published on: November 18, 2014

Many teachers like the idea of accepting homework through Google Classroom, but a common concern is accepting files from students who don’t use Google Docs, or accepting photos and files from other software.

Fear not! Google Classroom can handle this just fine. Set up an assignment as usual, and students will be presented with the option to upload files from Google Drive or from their computer.

I created my first one-take screencast to illustrate the process for those of you who haven’t tinkered with Classroom yet. It will demonstrate how to create the assignment, what it looks like on the student’s end, and then how the teacher can access the submitted assignments.

Got a student who feels more productive in Office or Pages? Using lab or math software that isn’t tied into Google Drive? No problem! Teachers can accept files in any format this way.

Teachers don’t even need the same software, as students can generate PDFs and turn those in instead. This will make things a lot easier for teachers who don’t want to install dedicated school software on home computers or who want to be able to view assignments on a tablet or smartphone.

If the student can create it, Google Classroom can collect it. Classroom makes organization and access a lot easier for teachers.

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