Life is weird. You can work really hard on something, and no matter what you do, progress seems slow. And then all of a sudden, without doing anything extra, your project takes off.
That’s how it’s feeling this year with Google Apps.
It’s the new school year, and everywhere I look, teachers are using Google Apps. The ninth grade Humanities teachers are using it to create their lessons. Advisory teams are sharing activities and keeping logs of everything they do. There is a universal list of teachers’ office hours. And perhaps most impressive, the school’s student roster is now a read-only Doc.
The excitement is rampant. In fact, in our weekly professional development meetings, there is a new hand gesture whenever someone mentions Google Apps. It resembles American Sign Language’s applause.
Yeah, it’s getting to be more than a bit cultish.
So I should be happy, right? This is what I wanted when I first envisioned bringing Google Apps to my campus, right?
Not exactly. I mean, it’s nice to see the enthusiasm. And some of the documents, particularly the student roster, are very helpful. If I want to know all the Latino boys in the ninth grade, for example, all I have to do is go to list view and sort. It’s nice when everyone has access.
The key to Google Apps is with students, not teachers
But then again, my hope was that the students would love Google Apps first. Besides the juniors, whom I indoctrinated last year in English class, the rest of the students seem ho-hum. That’s because teachers haven’t incorporated Apps into their curriculum. They haven’t made it a requirement.
Perhaps some of the blame lies in our school’s woeful technology situation. Already the third week of school, we’re still trying to get all the teachers’ computers up and running, and because of budget cuts, some staff members will likely not get a computer this year.
Tech is seen as an optional add-on
But that’s not it. The truth of the matter is, despite having a young staff, and despite being in the San Francisco Bay area, our teachers have not prioritized technology skills. We’re still too busy creating classroom culture and encouraging students to do their homework. Technology always seems like an optional add-on, something to do after some flow gets established.
But maybe the current fascination among teachers with Google Apps will soon translate to interest in the classroom. I can hope.