We are full steam ahead with the plan to roll out Google Apps to our entire district!
My new tech director and I have created what I believe to be a very rock solid roll out plan with lots of supports built in for both staff and students--also allowing our small IT staff time to "stay ahead of the curve". It has gone very well so far. We made the formal announcement of "Going Google" to every part of the staff in various ways.
The way that we announced to one staff has really caused me to reflect on change and those of us that are comfortable with change, those that can be comfortable with the right support, and those that do not enjoy change and struggle even with supports built in. It is this last group that I think we may have missed in the announcement that we made to our biggest staff.
We (my director and I) were invited to a staff meeting and given 15 minutes to talk with the whole group. Prior to the meeting, we had lots of conversations on whether to give many details to staff even though for 6 months it really wouldn't have any impact or should we just provide a very basic explanation and give more details when we are closer to the actual change. We went with the latter and found that in a large group, this may not be the best way to go about a district-changing announcement. We thought we were helping those that might be scared of tech changes by not overwhelming them with details. Unfortunately, we overwhelmed them with not enough information and there was fear of the unknown--rumors were rampant and in most cases, wrong.
Well, in order to make that right, my director and I met with small groups on that staff and calmed many, many fears and cleared up many misconceptions. The small group discussions were so powerful as we got into the idea of how moving to Google Apps would impact not only our staff, but our kids. The conversations went so well that we had a huge response to our request for volunteers on our second test group! We both are very new to being in a leadership position during entire district changes and we learned so much about not only how colleagues handle uncertainty, but also about ourselves and how we respond to that in a supportive, patient way.
With that small bump in the road taken care of we are well into our first 4K-12 Early Adopter group. They are pounding away on Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and Sites. They have been asked to "break it" so that when we roll out to more people we have a lot of the kinks out and many questions answered.
The super exciting part of this is that we had a large group of administrators willing to be in the first test group. How cool is that? Talk about leading by example! I am so impressed with their willingness to get in and "get their hands dirty" so that when their staff members are trained and entered into our domain, they will be ready to support and to answer questions. They knew going into this first group that there may be issues that we will have to work through, yet were brave enough to get in and get started. At this point we have about 30 people that have made the change over from Exchange to Gmail and are getting used Docs, Sites and Calendar in Google.
That's it for now. Our second Early Adopter group--scheduled for a March 20th training will have our entire guidance staff, all Library aides, two members of the maintenance staff and 40 additional teachers trained.
By the end of the school year we will have approximately a third of our staff completely rolled over to South Milwaukee Apps Powered By Google....stay tuned.