Google Hangouts: A Classroom for All

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Google Hangouts to Learn from Model Teachers

Google HangoutsOne way we as teachers can improve is through watching our peers as they teach. This idea, that watching a master teacher at work can elevate our own practice, is hardly radical or innovative. It’s just good sense.

However, getting into our peers’ classrooms often presents a significant challenge of time and location. In order to observe other teachers, we need to find substitutes — and funds for those subs — to watch our own classes, travel to other sites within the workday or fit more than one observer into crowded classrooms.

We also need to find to debrief after an observation and engage in the rich dialog that will make the observation experience ultimately more meaningful.

Google Hangouts helps break down these barriers and opens the door to all kinds of teacher observations that can help us grow as educators and learn to engage our students more effectively.

Observing a Model Teacher

Model teachers in school districts are often underutilized. They have significant expertise to pass along, but figuring out how to pass that along is often a challenge. Sure, they could speak at a staff meeting or at a dedicated professional development event.

But teaching is an art form, best seen in action. Using Google Hangouts, a team of teachers could observe a recorded lesson and hear ongoing commentary from the model teacher about the lesson. The model teacher could answer questions and the observing teachers could brainstorm ways to incorporate the model teacher’s actions into their own classrooms.

Schools could use this model to help pair new teachers with seasoned veterans, introduce new curricular materials, or provide specific training to more teachers at one time.

Professional Learning Communities

Using Google Hangouts to highlight model classrooms and lessons also expands on the notion of Professional Learning Teams or Communities, often called PLTs or PLCs, by expanding the team to other buildings.

For example, my English/Language Arts team has one member who recently received training in a specific curriculum. As a team, we wanted to employ some of the methods she learned to enhance the ability of all students in our English classes to improve their summarizing skills.

She videotaped herself giving a model lesson. As we watched the lesson in Google Hangouts, she shared the materials she had created for the lesson through Google Drive collaboration.

Our team benefited from her expertise in this area and our students now summarize at a higher level of proficiency.

Overcoming Obstacles

Google Hangouts can also help school districts overcome obstacles that get in the way of real classroom innovation as well. Too often, we as teachers close our doors to the rest of the building and isolate ourselves in our classrooms and our practice. Making time to see model teachers is just too hard.

But true innovation comes from engaging not just our students but our peers as well. We want to see and hear and experience what goes on in model classrooms so we can implement learn from these expert teachers.

Overcoming the obstacle of time and space is possible with Google Hangouts. We can celebrate success and look to replicate it across buildings and grade levels.

A key to success is engaging in the practices that you know work to bring about change. Observing model teachers is a practice that works, and Google Hangouts makes it that much easier to celebrate model teachers and support teacher growth.

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