Understanding Classroom's guardians feature

The Guardian feature in Google Classroom connects parents and caregivers to student information. This is the course and work information guardians need to support student success. Guardians are not members of the student's Classroom domain. So they must receive an invitation using their email address to become a guardian. Once they accept the invitation, they are a Classroom guardian.

Little SIS Sync lets you take the Guardian feature one step farther. With Little SIS Guardians explorer Admins can:

  • View all invitations; active, pending, incomplete. 
  • Automate and sync email invitations.
  • Sync guardian invitations
  • Populate email addresses in Google Classroom, providing a way for teachers to reach guardians. 

If you want to adopt this feature, it's important to understand how the process works. It will also help to understand how different uses interact with the Guardians feature. This includes domain admins, guardians, teachers, and students. Take a look at these Google articles. They can help you understand how the Guardians feature impacts the different users:

 

Enabling the guardians feature in Google Classroom

To use the Guardians feature, you first need to enable it. Once enabled, you can specify who can invite guardians; verified teachers, or only Admins.

Note: Verified teachers are accepted members of the classroom_teachers group.

Here's how to enable the Guardians feature:

  1. In the Admin Console navigate to Classroom General settings.
    Main Menu > Apps > Google Workspace > Classroom > General settings
  2. Click the guardian access section.
  3. Click Allow parents and guardians to access Classroom information.
  4. Now select who can send invitations: 
    • All verified teachers: When selected, guardians can be invited or removed from a student via the Classroom students list.
      OR
    • Only domain administrators: When selected, teachers can only enable or disable the inclusion of their classes in guardians email summaries.
      Screen_Shot_2017-04-22_at_9.03.21_PM.png
  5. Click Save.

Accepting invitations

Once a guardian accepts an invite, they are the student's guardian. Stated another way, they have a student/guardian relationship with the student's classes. This includes all classes the student has an invitation to. 

Once a guardian invite is sent, any of the student's other teachers can see the following in the Classroom student’s list:

  • The status of the invitation
  • Guardian's email address

Note: A teacher does not need to be the one who originally sent the invitation to see this information.

Likewise, once a guardian relationship is removed, it is removed for all their classes. 

In either case, a verified teacher can choose whether to include a class in guardian email summaries. This is a useful way to keep guardians in the loop!

Emailing guardians

When you use guardians, you can use the Classroom students list to email parents. Remember their email address is visible to all the student's teachers even if the invitations have not been accepted. 

To send an email:

  • Click Email All Guardians to email all guardians in the Classroom students list.
    OR
  • Select specific guardians and click Email Guardians to email only the selected guardians.

Screen_Shot_2017-04-30_at_6.20.54_PM.pngThis feature integrates with Gmail, using the appropriate blind carbon copy (Bcc) etiquette. This cuts down on the need for extra domain groups. It is only useful if teachers can trust that the guardian email address list is complete and accurate.

Screen_Shot_2017-04-30_at_6.21.07_PM.png

Challenges

In our view, the native model Classroom offers, in which teachers invite / link guardians to students, creates the following challenges for districts:

  • Redundant data entry creates a time-consuming chore for teachers that pulls them away from more valuable work and creates friction to full adoption.
  • Inconsistent data availability across students and classes, depending on which teachers have collected parent email information on given students, makes the feature much less valuable and casts the district in a bad light.
  • If there are district controls or protocols around the management of official parent contact information, there is a missed opportunity to leverage this information, and some districts may view such teacher-centric data collection as a real legal risk.

By making it possible to link guardian email addresses from your SIS, Little SIS Sync solves many of these challenges.