It was mid-summer when I got an email from our new middle school principal. He explained that he wants grade-level teams of teachers to have a team web page so that parents can look in one place and know what the students are doing. I immediately realized that I had not even gotten the opportunity to show him Schoology, the amazing all-in-one that is going to revolutionize our school! Once we have our parents looking at Schoology, they won’t need to go to any teacher web pages to see what’s going on. They will be able to see all assignments, class updates, grades, events, groups and comments and everything else that their student is seeing and interacting with without creating double work for teachers. Even better, parents can set email notifications so that the news will come directly to them instead of having to remember to go check themselves. Genius!
So what do we do until parents can see what’s going on? We had decided to wait until the first set of parent conferences before we rollout Schoology Parent Accounts. Why? We want to make sure all of our teachers are good and comfortable with the Schoology grade book and the whole new digital classroom thing we’re going for this year. I got invited to a team leader meeting so we could talk about what the principal wanted for these team web pages and I showed everyone Schoology. Our big official intro-to-Schoology training would be taking place the very next day and everyone in the room was already invited to attend. So I just gave a small preview to set up my next suggestion:
Let’s use public Schoology group pages for each team to introduce the teachers on the team and post the weekly assignments until we get parents their own accounts. This will give parents the chance to see Schoology, even if they don’t know that’s how they’re getting a peek into daily student activities. Then, once the parents have their own accounts and are connected to their students, these team pages can transfer into teacher-student grade level team pages. Teams can post about everything going on. Reminders about field trips, testing events, award ceremonies, students of the month, homework clubs, etc.
The whole idea of the public team pages was well received so I ran home and created these team pages right away. I linked them on our website under a new link… Teams!
I made each team leader an administrator of their group page and asked them to send group invitations to each member of their grade-level team. Then, at our very first staff meeting on August 23rd, when I introduced Schoology to the whole staff, I asked everyone to join their groups if they had not already done so. I gave the instruction that everyone was to go to their team page and post an update that included a welcome message with their name, what they teach and what they are looking forward to this school year. Every teacher in the room learned at least one thing about Schoology in that activity and in the process of doing so they communicated and made connections with students and their parents/guardians.