Josh Davis has spent 14 years teaching high school special education and middle school history, so he knows some classroom constants very well. He understands how students with learning difficulties feel separated from other classmates, how family problems sometimes manifest themselves as inappropriate behavior in the classroom, and being singled out—whether for positive or negative reasons—can cause panic among almost all students.
However, when Davis left the classroom and served as the current teaching technology coach for the Downey Unified School District in California, he discovered a new constant. He has seen over and over again that teachers refuse to adopt technology because they don’t want to try new things in front of students and it seems silly.
Davis is committed to helping his teachers achieve a higher level of technical integration. One tool that helped him complete this journey was GoGuardian’s classroom management software, which his school district adopted in 2018 as part of their one-to-one program.
EdSurge talked with Davis to understand why GoGuardian Teacher is a “door-to-door tool” that makes technology less daunting for Teacher Downey. He also shared an amazing way that the tool can help strengthen the teacher-student relationship and provide teachers with the sense of security they need to try new things.
EdSurge: Can you provide some background on Downey’s early adoption of educational technology?
Davis: When we started putting equipment in the hands of teachers and students in 2018, many teachers were very hesitant. They are afraid that students will cheat with their technology. We try to help them understand that students who cheat may already be cheating, but this fear still exists.
We very much hope to introduce technology to our students in class, because we know that many of our students do not have equipment at home. School is the only place where they develop these important technical skills.
With GoGuardian, teachers can gain insight into the level of student participation and whether they understand the course. This reduces the fear factor and enables them to continue using technology. Teachers began to use GoGuardian to increase student engagement, pushing documents or links to save class time. Then I started to notice that GoGuardian changed the way of teaching and building relationships in the classroom.
Can you talk about how classroom management software can help build student/teacher relationships?
This is a series of things. For example, if students have had a difficult day, they will not come to the teacher and say something, because the whole class will know. However, if the student can send a message privately to tell the teacher something, they will do so.
It also allows teachers to provide real-time, one-to-one feedback without having to single out a student in front of the class. For example, if a student writes an essay in a language arts class and gets off track, the teacher can pop up a message on their screen saying: “Hey, this paragraph looks off topic, try to focus on… …”
Especially high school students, even if you do something that should be helpful, they will feel isolated and embarrassed. With GoGuardian, teachers can still provide feedback and redirect students; they just do it privately. This is a great help in building relationships.
And this is just the beginning. We haven’t even touched on the ability to personalize learning.
Let’s take a closer look. How does the software support personalized learning?
When teachers push activities or materials to students, they don’t have to share the same content with everyone. Take mathematics as an example: the teacher told me that they would send students worksheets that match their reading level or ability level, instead of listing them individually and causing shame. If the students perform well and finish them quickly, the teacher can share the more challenging assignments and attach a note that says: “Hey, you did a great job with your homework. Why don’t you try this now.” “
The same is true for students with special needs. Maybe they will encounter fewer problems or customized tasks to meet their reading level. A teacher told me how her special education students fit into the class because their assistants can monitor and help them through GoGuardian Teacher.
This simple change solved their social and emotional needs because they no longer need to sit next to an assistant all day. They can be anywhere and become part of the class. Again, this is building a relationship. The students felt that the teacher was taking care of them.
How can teachers in your area use GoGuardian to help students develop key skills?
We are addressing some social and emotional needs and reducing the teacher’s fear factor. Now, it is great to see where they are willing to go. When people are not afraid of failure, they can perform well, and you can see this here.
One of our teachers used OneNote, Google Docs, and Flipgrid in an American history course assignment on the Constitution. He runs all this through GoGuardian Teacher. The goal is for students to debate which of the three government departments is stronger or more important. They record their research in OneNote, write their arguments in Google Docs, and then use Flipgrid to record their positions.
He said that without GoGuardian to help him monitor the progress of his students at a glance, he would never have completed this cool and crazy course.