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Thursday, August 15, 2019
Quick EdTech Tips for Starting a New School Year
I hope everyone had an enjoyable summer. I know I did. This summer was probably the most I have traveled ever. Now that summer has come to a close for 2019, the new school year is upon us. Starting a new school year is both exciting and stressful. We are excited to see students and colleagues again, but, at the same time, we can be stressed by meetings, PD and the rigors of curriculum and classroom set up.
Allow me to share with you a few edtech tips I use myself at the beginning of each school year. These tips are Google-centric, but if you are a Microsoft or Apple District, those platforms have similar functions.
Archive Old Google Classrooms
When a new year starts, go to Google Classroom and archive your old classrooms. To do this, on the Google Classroom home page where you see all of your classrooms, click the three dots and select archive. Don't recycle them. If there is an old assignment in an archived class, you can still reuse them in your new classes.
Try One New App/Strategy
If you're anything like me, you're constantly learning through a PLN, social media and conferences. This type of learning inundates you with new ideas and strategies. I advise not trying to implement too many new ideas, apps or strategies at once. Start slow with one at a time. Reach out to your tech coach for support. Once you and your students are comfortable, try another. For me personally, I am beginning the year with a few #eduprotocols and will implement more as the year wears on.
Clean Out Inbox
Early in the year, we tend to get more emails than normal. This can lead to a bloated inbox. Bloated inboxes can result in missed messages. Don't be an email hoarder. Take a few minutes and delete old messages you know you don't need. If there are messages you need to save, create labels (which are like folders) and move them for future reference to declutter the inbox.
Not every communication requires an email. If it can be said via text message, use text messaging instead of email. If you do not give out your cellphone number, use a messaging system like Google Hangouts to keep your number private, but still have a back channel for informal communication.
Clean Out Google Drive
Like the inbox, Google Drive can get cluttered. You may find tons of old files that were shared with you that are no longer needed. Delete them. If you don't want to delete, create an "Old Stuff" folder and move those things there to separate from files you use frequently. Develop a naming convention system for files and folders. This will help searching Google Drive tremendously.
Unsubscribe from old Calendars
Throughout each school year, we are invited to view calendars from different initiatives, programs, teams, clubs and more. This will clutter your view of calendars in the left side toolbar of Google Calendar making it difficult to see and manage the calendars you need to see this year. If you hover your cursor over an "old" calendar, an "x" will appear. Click it to unsubscribe.
Add Bell Schedule to my Calendar
When working with kids in our classrooms, it is easy to lose track of time. As tech coach in my district, I have added the bell schedule to Google Calendar and shared it with the schools I serve. This was a little tedious, but now the calendars sync to my phone. I set each period to have a 3 minute notification before the end to remind me to start wrapping things up. This notification comes on my phone and my smartwatch. If you don't have a coach like me to set this up for you, feel free to message me and I can give you a hand (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Set a Simple Reflection Challenge
Reflection is important for educators. The more I reflect on my practice, the better educator I become. This year, I have set a challenge for myself to take pictures of student work every day in addition to pictures of the work I do as tech coach. Each day, I take a few minutes and add those images to a slide. When the year is over, I'll have a 185 slide presentation filled with pictures of the work I have done. This helps me stay mindful to make sure I, the students I work with and teachers I serve are producing quality work. You don't need to do my challenge, but try something like writing a sticky note to yourself each day. Try blogging or even taking 5 minutes of quiet time to decompress.
Make friends with Tech Coach and or IT Personnel
If you're reading this, you have probably connected with this tech coach already. If I am not the tech coach at your site, find that tech coach. Being a tech coach can be a lonely job. We love it when teachers reach out. We have a lot to share and we love sharing.
As a tech coach and teacher, I work closely with IT personnel. This is a hugely important relationship. Making friends with these folks makes my life a lot easier. This relationship means I don't need to wait as long to get things fixed, connected or hooked up. In my experience, a box of donuts goes a long in building a relationship with IT personnel.
I hope everyone has a great school year and hopefully some of these tips were helpful!