Gmail makes communication with school staff, students, and families quick and easy. I especially like that I can create contact groups to expedite the process. One thing I have to remember is to use the bcc: function when communicating with families as to not share personal information. I like that I can easily share IEP documentation (PDF copies) which helps reduce paper consumption and having to mail the paperwork via mail which takes time, energy, and resources.
I find that the Gmail interface is intuitive and easy to use. I am a person who likes to "poke around" and work my way through it. One thing I learned in this module was that there are add-ons available to increase functionality. I downloaded "Canned Responses..." and have a little time to explore it. I think it will help save some time when sending repetitive emails such s reminders. I prefer Gmail over JMC communication because Gmail is a direct link to families whereas JMC doesn't allow the family member to "reply" to the email.
My plan for upcoming instruction (middle school self-contained special education students) includes tutorials on adding contacts, creating contact groups, personalization via themes, and creating and using labels to organize emails, and utilizing Chat and Meet for classroom activities. I really liked the idea of virtual pen pals via Gmail, Chat, and Meet and hope to implement in the upcoming school year.