What is it?
Google Hangout Tip Sheet
How to do it?
Teacher's Guide to Hangouts (Great video explaining and showing the tools)
Why do it?
A Tool for Collaboration
Department meetings are hard to schedule between athletics, after school events, tutoring, and other duties. Google Hangouts can ease the burden by making more time available for conversation and planning. The app can be easily downloaded on their iPad and can immediately connect with their departments by making a Circle of Friends. In our case, that would be roughly nine teachers each (the max for connections). For departments with more than nine teachers, some teachers could meet together under one connection.
Don't forget however that Google Hangouts is a powerful communication tool that can enhance collaboration and increase efficiency by saving time, energy and even extending the times that teachers can meet -- they do not all have to be done during the day.
When teachers see how they teach and receive feedback on that teaching, teaching improves. Watching other teachers in the classroom as they teach is a powerful professional development tool. I encourage all of my new teachers to observe some of my best teachers.
There is a drawback to this, though. When observers come into the classroom, they always cause the students to change their behavior. Likewise, as much as we would like to not admit it, the teacher behavior changes too. Even worse, when more than one person is trying to observe a teacher at the same time, class disruption is guaranteed. Google Hangouts may have the solution.
Virtual Classroom Visits
Teachers could volunteer to have their iPads set up in the classroom for recording and up to eight more teachers or groups of teachers could observe the lesson in real time, and chat with each other about it while it is happening. Of course the recording teacher would have to turn off the speakers on their iPad so the students would not hear the chatter. New teachers could ask questions of the other observers while it is happening. Experienced teachers could call attention to excellent strategies and point out the finer details. Perhaps best of all, the video is not recorded. No messing with tapes, no worry about the video being uploaded to YouTube, and no worries about privacy or FERPA for the students.
For teachers to improve their instruction in major ways, being observed by our peers is the best way to begin the process. This type of professional development will help standardize what a campus views as "good teaching" and will help them to take that to the next level of "great teaching". The professional conversation, the trust and the unity built by first being willing to be vulnerable in front of your peers and then being open to honestly discuss individual performance, even just focusing on the positive, will bring incredible results in daily teacher instruction.
Building Instructional Practices
I can envision teachers using Google Hangouts every time they want to try out a new strategy and asking a valued peer to watch and provide feedback on it. I see it as a tool that will help teacher communities make decisions. When a professional learning community (PLC) wants to compare strategies in regards to choosing the one that is most effective, they can have two of their teachers try them out and they can witness the results in real time. For administrators, using Google Hangouts in this way would be a valuable training tool, a way to showcase your superstar teachers and begin to clone them and make more superstars.
Hangouts on Air- Step by step how to record