It’s the second week of the school year, which creates a problem: Teachers are trying to create stability and structure in their classrooms at the same time the student body is changing the most.
The first day, I had one Kevin in my class; the next, there were three. Today, there were two. How many Kevins will show up tomorrow?
Student movement is not just a problem in teachers’ classrooms but also presents a challenge in setting up Google Apps accounts school-wide.
What’s the best way to stay up to date?
If you’re the administrator of your school’s Google Apps account, the best answer is to wait three or four weeks into the school year and then add all of your ninth graders and transfer students all at once. Google Apps lets you create multiple users by uploading a list of accounts. Just ask your Registrar for an Excel document of all your students, upload it as a CSV, and that’s it.
Deleting accounts is another story. You have to select accounts to delete one by one after cross referencing your Google Apps list with your student body list. Particularly annoying is that Google Apps alphabetizes only by first name, which adds an additional sorting step in Excel.
What if teachers want to start using Google Apps right away?
This question is the one I’m dealing with right now. On the third day of school, ninth grade teachers gave out their first written assignment on Google Docs, and ever since then, I’ve been adding and deleting users, trying to help students not fall behind.
Everything became chaotic because I never felt on top of all the changes. Then came the natural difficulties of getting students to register their accounts. Despite clear directions and direct instruction, many ninth graders said they couldn’t access their accounts.
Luckily, I figured out a system. The Registrar sends me a daily email about transfers in and out, and teachers send me a list of students who have trouble registering their accounts. Although there’s still a lot of work to do, at least things seem more streamlined now.
What about group distribution lists?
Making sure that all students have an account isn’t enough. Putting them into the right email distribution lists takes another step.
For example, we have a students@, classof2013@, and so on. That way, we can send information to students efficiently.
Although I love Google Apps, they sure don’t make this step easy. You would think that you could add create a new user and add them to a group at the same time. Except you can’t. Instead, you have to go to a separate group page and add users one by one.
It’s not the end of the world, but the work gets tedious when it’s the beginning of the year, students are bouncing back and forth, and you’re trying to create stability and structure in your own classroom.