Editor's note: Today’s guest authors are Susan Herder, Instructional Technology Coordinator, and Gretchen Zahn, Curriculum Coordinator at Mounds View Public Schools. Susan is a Google Certified Teacher and Google Education Trainer. Gretchen Zahn coordinates the district’s hybrid program and helped develop the district’s teacher appraisal process.

Students aren’t the only ones learning at Mounds View Public Schools — teachers and administrators are also learning from one another with the help of Google Apps and Google Classroom. In 2013, we introduced the Teacher Development and Appraisal Program to support teachers’ professional development. Every teacher is part of a collaborative team, a group for feedback and knowledge-sharing. Because each team manages information in different documents, it’s a priority to keep them organized and easily accessible.

Google Apps and Google Classroom help our teams keep track of all documents related to goal setting, learning targets and other inputs. Teachers write agendas, take meeting notes and complete TDAP self-assessments in Google Docs, and use Google Sheets to analyze student data from the assessments we give every month. Teachers input assessment information in the same sheet, so they can see a student’s progress across multiple subjects. Collaborative teams also use Hangouts to have conversations about professional development and student progress without scheduling meetings. During these Hangouts, teachers can reference resources and student information stored in their team’s Google Site. Teacher development is now a team effort since everyone is learning from each other and discussing their progress.
Principals use Google Classroom to organize, send and receive teacher feedback, much like teachers do with students. Our teachers’ favorite feature is the ability to post questions based on the principal’s feedback. It’s a channel for two-way communication that previously would have happened much slower via email or in-person meetings. Classroom has also encouraged principals to provide feedback more frequently, since it’s so easy and widely used. Approximately 90% of our certified staff use Google Classroom as part of the Teacher Development and Appraisal Program.
Image courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Ridlehoover, Principal, Mounds View High School

Google Apps for Education has streamlined what initially appeared to be a difficult process of sharing information, data and resources. Teachers and administrators are leaning on each other to improve their teaching skills and ultimately become better educators districtwide.