Friday, August 28, 2015

Strengthening Connections via a Gmail Signature and Profile Photo

Waukesha is an amazing place to work.  With such talented students and staff, support around every bend, and a network of thousands to connect with and learn from, there are so many opportunities to both grow and witness/execute astounding learning and teaching events.

These connections do not happen, though, without building a strong, connected community.  It is no secret that The School District of Waukesha is pretty big place with a lot of staff members and students. Recognizing faces and remembering names can be one potential concern in a district this large.

Thankfully, there are some things we can all do to bridge the gap and strengthen these connections.  This is particularly true with technology, as it is a primary way that many of us communicate.  So, here are two suggestions each staff member should consider to make connecting and communicating in our district just a little bit easier.


Create a Gmail Signature

We love Gmail and we use it to communicate with each other, with students, with families, and with the community.  With the hundreds of emails I get daily, one trend is particularly clear.  Those staff members who clearly identify themselves in their email, providing information that I need to connect with or support them, make it far easier to re-connect with them or follow through with a request more expediently.

Generally speaking, there are a few items you should consider placing in every email you send.


  • Your Full Name (there are a lot of people across the district with your same first name)
  • Name of Your School(s) 
  • Your Position/Role 
  • Phone Number (avoid personal cell phones...your school number is probably the best choice here)
That's a lot to type at the end of each email, though.  To make that more efficient, you can add a signature that is automatically placed at the end of each email.  Set it once and forget it.  Your information will always be attached, making it easier to identify and connect with you.

Here is a tutorial page that will help you set up your signature in Gmail: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/8395?hl=en


Add a Gmail/Google Profile Photo

I have had many email exchanges with people I have yet to physically meet.  One way that I feel more connected to the people I communicate with online, though, is knowing what they look like.  The simplest way that this is achieved is by providing an image of yourself as your profile image. Especially when communicating with people that have not met you before, or who do not see you every day (district level support and administrative people, colleagues from other buildings, parents, etc.), this makes the face-to-face meetings (especially identifying each other) much smoother and far less awkward.  

I understand that many folks are a little sheepish about putting a photo of themselves out there. In fact, some people elect to include an icon that is not an image of them. While we learn a little bit more about you and your interests, nothing is as valuable as an actual photo of you. That photo helps others to identify you and it is incredibly useful to aid in connecting and communicating with others (especially as you are getting to know each other).  

Consider adding your profile photo to your Google Apps account.  Here is tutorial that shows how:  https://support.google.com/mail/answer/35529?hl=en