Understanding Classroom's guardians feature

In planning to support greater adoption of Google Classroom, increased utilization of guardian communication tools may be an important source of value for your schools' use of Little SIS.

In considering whether and how to scale up adoption, it's important to take a moment and understand how the process works natively.  Fortunately, Google maintains some helpful articles that are likely to be the best source for this kind of information:

As a domain administrator, it is probably most important to understand how the Guardian access settings in the admin panel impact teachers. 

 

Depending on how your your domain's Classroom settings are configured, guardians can be "invited" to students by verified teachers (e.g. accepted members of the classroom_teachers group) in the Google Classroom interface, or they can be invited by domain administrators exclusively.  The setting that controls this access permission is found under Apps -> G Suite -> Settings for Classroom under the Guardian access section.

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Once an invite has been sent, the student <--> guardian relationship carries across all classes a student has been invited to.  Another teacher of the same student will see that email address and the invitation state, even if they were not the teacher who originally sent the invitation.  Likewise, if a teacher chooses to remove a guardian from a student, that guardian relationship is removed for all of that student's classes.From the teachers' perspective, when the verified teachers mode is selected in the admin panel, guardians can be invited or removed from a student via the Classroom students list.

By contrast, if the only domain administrators option is selected in the admin panel, the teacher's powers are limited to enabling or disabling the inclusion of their classes in guardians email summaries.

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In either case, a verified teacher can choose whether or not a given class should be included in guardian email summaries, which are quite a useful way to keep guardians in the loop!


Another value proposition of having guardian email addresses linked to students in Classroom (even if the invitations have not been accepted) is the ability for teachers to quickly email selected, or ALL, parents using the Classroom interface.

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This feature integrates seamlessly with Gmail, using the appropriate BCC etiquette.  This cuts down on the need for additional domain groups, but is only especially useful if teachers can trust that the guardian email address list is complete and accurate.

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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 a 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 you SIS, Little SIS solves many of these challenges.