Toward a More Equitable Learning Experience Through GoGuardian

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Gabriela Garza is a 4th grade Bilingual Teacher at Reilly Elementary. She serves as the campus CIC and Lead Mentor Teacher Contact. She is a graduate of the Leadership Pathway on Literacy program. She is looking forward to joining the UT Austin/AISD 2021-2022 Texas Principal Leadership Academy this summer.

As the end of the school year approaches, one guiding question arises: What helped me provide more equitable and engaging instruction?
Using GoGuardian as a classroom management tool allowed me to achieve a more equitable learning environment for both, face-to-face and remote learners. If virtual and hybrid learning models continue for next school year, I would certainly use GoGuardian to provide support and guidance.

In this article, I will demonstrate how various features of GoGuardian helped me provide an engaging and equitable experience for my students. Additionally, I included a section about special considerations and difficulties encountered. Conversely, I left out the technicalities related to using GoGuardian and instead will focus on the experience it brought to my classroom. For suggested tutorials, I added a link when necessary.

(See suggested tutorial Best Practices and  New  Features  ).

The following questions served as a guidepost throughout the school year:

  • How can I increase equity and engagement during remote learning?
  • In what ways can I provide frequent check-ins to redirect students?
  • What are other alternatives for verifying attendance while allowing flexibility?
  • What resistance will I face from students, parents, or administrators when implementing GoGuardian in my classroom?   

Implications for Using GoGuardian

Using GoGuardian in my 4th grade classroom helped me increase equity among my students. It was immediately apparent that some students had a supportive family who could provide enriching learning opportunities, while other students’ families worked all day or night and were not available to guide their child’s learning. Given these growing gaps, I wondered how I could become more of a solution for an increasingly complex situation that is beyond my control. Inadvertently, GoGuardian became an invaluable resource to build community and guide many of our “lost” students.

GoGuardian and Attendance

The gross inequalities in education were exposed and exacerbated this year. The digital divide and disproportionate access to technology were highlighted during this time. One common occurrence was the outstanding number of absences among students experiencing historically and currently marginalizing conditions. As a result, I adopted a flexible attendance approach. The Student Reports in GoGuardian allowed me to track students who were chronically absent. Analyzing students’ browsing history allowed me to provide an accommodating approach to attendance. Additionally, it helped to clarify occasional absence discrepancies with parents who thought their child was present for remote learning.

Also, the Screens section allowed me to monitor students’ screens in real time even when they were absent in Zoom and not completing BLEND assignments. Additionally, the option to use the Screenshot feature to capture a particular student’s screen allowed for valuable data to share with parents. This was especially helpful for constant off-task behavior with students who had received constant redirection. Overall, obtaining proof of activity or browsing history on AISD Chromebooks can easily be accomplished through the Student Reports and Screens/Screenshots sections.

Providing an Equitable Experience

One of the highlights of GoGuardian is the use of its Scenes feature. All students were allowed the same privileges on the AISD Chromebooks through the use of Scenes. Remote learners did not get to browse the Internet at their leisure on AISD Chromebooks while face-to-face learners were at school doing classwork. Had it not been for the Scenes, many remote learners who were left unsupervised at home would have watched YouTube instead of completing assignments or attending Zoom. Occasionally, the option to close or open a new tab for a specific student was necessary to assist those who did not have a family member to help them stay on track. With the ability to select which websites to allow or block, you will be able to focus more on teaching and less on eliminating distractions. (See suggested tutorial  Scenes Overview)  .

Particularly, the Chat and Announcements sections were an equally helpful resource for me this year. It is user friendly and easily accessible for students; much easier and faster for students to communicate than messaging through  BLEND  or  Zoom  chat.  Most  of  the  redirections, check-ins, and guidance were communicated through GoGuardian chat messages. Students who would have otherwise been lost without the help of a family member were able to communicate with me and receive support through instant chat messaging. For documentation purposes, the information on students’ screens, chat, and screenshots proved to be resourceful for eCST service tracking. Student engagement would have not been as equitable and equally effective without GoGuardian. (See suggested tutorial Chat  Announcements)

Special Considerations

Change does not happen without resistance. While implementing GoGuardian in my classroom, I received strong pushback from some parents. Be prepared to set your expectations with parents and administration from the beginning of the year, and explain your rationale for using GoGuardian. In my case, even when following this, it did not prevent me from receiving resistance and requests to remove particular students from my GoGuardian classroom. This presented another challenge: preferential treatment. How will you handle confrontation when someone does not want their child in your GoGuardian classroom? Is it equitable to monitor all students except for one or a few? How will you respond to parents/students who ask why someone else is receiving preferential treatment in your class? Are you willing to provide equity for all students? If you ever find yourself in this predicament, be prepared to make difficult decisions if you want to keep all students, none, or just a few in your GoGuardian classroom.

Given the challenges mentioned above, I wonder how the experience would be different for some parents if they use the GoGuardian Parent App. This would give them immediate access to student online activity and browsing history reports, parental control, and customizable access. Certainly a feature worth exploring! (See demo Parent App).

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