Have you ever used Google Hangouts? If not, you are missing out on free and powerful collaboration tool. Get started with the basics at this helpful link.
In a nutshell, Hangouts is a free way to engage in a video conference with up to ten people. You can see each face in the conversation, and have the option of sharing screens to look at the same visuals together.
Whether you are a teacher, administrator or external partner supporting schools, you can use hangouts to collaborate beyond school walls.
As a professional learning consultant, I use hangouts regularly to support clients and connect with colleagues in the field. Here are five examples of how I am using Hangouts to enhance my work:
- Lead Virtual Professional Learning Communities – In our Observation Inquiry Leadership Network, for example, teacher leaders and administrators from across the U.S. and Canada meet monthly via hangouts to collaborate and support one another with a shared goal: leading peer observation inquiry to deepen job-embedded professional learning at scale. In each one-hour Hangout, we share successes and challenges then dive into a deep discussion on a team-selected question or problem-to-solve.
- Coach Teacher Leaders as Facilitators – Leading deep job-embedded professional learning is a new experience for many teacher leaders, and requires nimble facilitation skills. I use Hangouts to lead collaborative learning among facilitators, provide one-on-one coaching, and virtually visit meetings the facilitator leads to provide feedback and support.
- Support Teacher Teams – To follow up on my interactive workshops on High-Impact Literacy and ELD, I meet virtually with teacher teams during their job-embedded planning time to help them apply learning to lesson planning. Using hangouts in tandem with a shared Google document, we discuss and plan together in real time even though we are hundreds of miles away.
- Collaborate with Multiple Stakeholders to Plan Professional Learning– Aligning professional learning to district priorities, contexts and climates matters. I customize my consulting support to make sure every second of my time with teachers is relevant to the unique context of each client district and school. Phone is still a great technology for this process, yet Hangouts is more personal and allows us to bring up to ten stakeholders from different locations into the conversation.
- Collaborate with Job-Alike Colleagues – In addition to using Hangouts to enhance services I provide to schools, I use Hangouts for my own professional learning. I meet regularly with other leaders, authors, consultants to share ideas and collaborate in solving challenges together to innovate new possibilities for students and schools.
Virtual meetings via Hangouts may feel a little awkward at first, but through practice you realize the tremendous advantage of being able to connect and collaborate internationally without travel costs, and in the comfort of your own home.