Sunday, September 24, 2023

Student Organization You Can Do

Recently, I had a conversation about a topic I love. Organization - specifically, organization for students.

Some students naturally know how to be organized, others can and will learn it, and others will struggle. So what are we to do? 

Often, it feels like a losing battle. But remember, as with most everything, organization IS an important skill that needs to be taught, reinforced, and at times, adjusted. AND, as with most everything, there is NOT a single "right" way. Which is why organization is such a struggle.

Honestly, I loved working with my students on their organization. Together, we'd empty their locker, backpack, and folders. We'd pitch what wasn't needed, make a pile to ask about, and put the things in the place where it made sense. But it had to make sense to the student. Then I'd send them with their pile and ask the other teachers what, if anything, needed to be kept. They'd return with a smaller pile and we'd find a home for it. I am no organization wizard, but I had a heart for those students who'd walk around with papers shoved into folders and lockers that were bursting at the seams. And I'd make the time to help them organize. *full disclosure ... we had a study hall like period I'd utilize for this task* I'd do this several times during the year, as needed.

I taught social studies - a subject that had less pressure on it - so I coordinated with my team when we'd do a locker clean out. Typically, it was at the end of a grading period. It's wild what you find in lockers ... forgotten clothing, school supplies that had never made it to their "requester", even packed lunches the student had chosen to not eat! All amongst the typical random papers and pencils. When you do a locker & backpack clean out, you'll see a different side of your students. And you will find school supplies that need a home.

After a year or so, I got smart. The 1st day of school, I had a box to collect supplies for my team. Sharpies for art class that you won't have until 3rd quarter? No problem! I'll get them to the art teacher. Index cards for science - got you covered! They can all go in this box and live there until needed in science. Post-it notes for ELA - yep, drop them in and they will get moved over to the room. And so on.

Finally, one of my favorite parts ... end of the year. Have you ever looked at the supplies that are going to be thrown away? How about a 1/2 used notebook? Go ahead and rip out the used pages, put them in the recycling bin and I'll put the notebook in a cabinet for a student who really needs it. What will you do with that binder? Toss it? Nope, I'll put that in the cabinet and when someone needs it, it'll be there. When i switched positions, I had filled an entire cabinet with partially used notebooks, another cabinet with folders that had a little love to them, notebook paper, binders, index cards, and pencils. All of these supplies would have been throw away. I never asked questions when a student - even students who didn't come to me for class - needed a supply. Help yourself. [P.s. I never required students to leave supplies ... it was completely voluntary.]

Why do I share this today? 

I'm back teaching in the classroom and I'm part of these kinds of conversations again. I'm back at the middle school level where it is assumed these kids "know" how to organize. Most of them don't, or better put, they don't know how to organize.

The things I shared above are easy things we can do to help our students - ALL of them - get and stay organized. Small, easy tasks ... but ones students don't - no, WON'T - make time for. WE teachers need to make time for them. We need to show them it's important and that it takes a little bit of time and energy. And when we do that, ALL of our students will benefit. I promise.

Soon, I'll share about planners ... do you go digital? Or do you stick with paper? Which is better? 

*** Every Monday, I share a newsletter with a collection of Tech You Can Do resources. It is delivered right to your inbox. Interested? 
Sign up here!  ***

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Reflecting on 21 years ...

I have started a new chapter in my professional life. I have changed districts and positions. I know I don't share specifically about my employment or personal life often, but this is a BIG change for me. I've backed off of social media, presenting, and creating because this has consumed my heart. 

It wasn't an easy decision - just ask my husband - but it
IS the right decision for me. July and August have been packed with tears flowing freely; getting together with colleagues; phone calls with friends; and wrapping up the final chapter of my career in Ross. After all, Ross has made me into who I am professionally.

I am excited to take the next steps as the technology teacher for another district's middle school. I will work with 6th, 7th, & 8th grades. I already feel welcomed as a new staff member. And as I am getting to know my new professional home, I am finding quite a few similarities, while at the same time - big differences. 

Change isn't a bad thing (as I'm reminded quite often). Change allows for growth. Change allows for new challenges. Change provides new opportunities.

The infographic below is a quick overview of the last 21 years. Position changes, major life events, even the number of shirts I've collected! (And I was excited to use Canva again to create an infographic!)

*** Every Monday, I share a newsletter with a collection of Tech You Can Do resources. It is delivered right to your inbox. Interested? 
Sign up here!  ***

Sunday, July 16, 2023

New Adventures + old email You Can Do

Last week I shared my plan for what to do with your Google Drive if you are moving from one district to another in New Adventures + old files You Can Do . I do NOT recommend using Takeout or Transfer as I firmly believe we are all digital hoarders. If you are making a move, use this as an opportunity to go through your Drive and take what will benefit you, not what will weigh you down - and if your Drive was a mess then, it's not like it's going to clean itself up by moving to a new account!

Something else that you might need or want to look at as you move from one district to another is your Gmail. This one is a bit trickier. You can't really "export" emails. You can export your contacts.  But honestly ... stop and ask yourself ... which ones do you really need? And if you are brutally honest with yourself, I don't think you find there are all that many.

I'm going to share my thoughts - but this is all based on the idea that you have NOT tangled your personal emails with your school emails - meaning you don't handle bills or personal accounts through your school email address. If you DO, PLEASE STOP. I think of it as "multiple identities". Anything to do with home gets done with my personal Gmail. Anything related to my job, through school email. I don't cross these lines. Period.

Just with my Drive, I'm a big user of labels in my Gmail. Here's also where knowing some searching tips comes in really handy. When you find the ones you want to preserve, forward them to the newly created - or personal account - you are using to house the files you are taking with you.

Here are some things to think about:
  • Looking for an email(s) from a specific person? Search their name at the top ... and comb through the ones that appear.
  • Looking for an email(s) about a specific topic? Search the topic at the top ... and go through those.
  • If you use labels, think about which labels are worth even looking at - and go through JUST those.
  • Want to have email addresses for certain people? Search for one of their emails and forward that. Their email will show up for you.
You might just find there aren't a whole lot of emails you really need to keep. 

Good luck! Making changes is always hard - even when it's a really good change. 

Also, do NOT wait! Some districts are very strict about shutting off accounts. And once you are locked out, you could be locked out forever. 

FINAL tip: in the future, create in your personal account and share it to your school account. Then make a copy to use at school. Making it in your personal account will prevent the above 'song and dance' in the future.

*** Every Monday, I share a newsletter with a collection of Tech You Can Do resources. It is delivered right to your inbox. Interested? Sign up here!  ***

Sunday, July 9, 2023

New Adventures + old files You Can Do

How's your summer going? It's still the early part of July, and I am fully enjoying the slower pace, the sunshine, and the over all relaxed atmosphere in my house. I'm writing this in one of my most favorite spots at my house ... the front porch.

One of the pieces of my job at the end of the year is to help those who are retiring or leaving our district decide what to do with items in their Google Drive. I know, based on the conversations in the Google Trainer group, many districts struggle with this. There really isn't any one perfect method. I'm not the biggest fan of Takeout or Transfer - too often you are taking a bunch of "crap" that you will never look at or use again.

Instead, I always recommend making 2 folders - "Keepers" and "I don't need". (Some of you may need a 3rd folder "Transfer ownership".) Create these, then go through your Drive and make FAST decisions. Don't open everything, don't stress about it, just decide. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you go through your Drive:
  • did I use this file/folder THIS school year?
  • will it help me in my future position?
  • should I digitally "give" this to someone who is staying here?
You could also use the "Last modified" date to help you decide if you are unsure. If it wasn't modified in the pas 2 years or so, I'd say you most likely won't miss it. You might be surprised at what you REALLY end up taking with you.

Once you've done this clean up, don't worry about the "I don't need" folder. Just leave it alone. For the "Keepers", it gets a little tricky. You CAN share it with a personal or other school domain account, but that doesn't transfer ownership. You CAN make copies in your personal account ... but this takes a TON of time.

  • right click on your "Keepers" folder & select download
  • note where it downloads - it'll become a "zip" file
  • click ONCE on the zip file - THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT ... ONCE. ONLY ONCE.
  • you should now see a file folder named "Keepers". DO NOT OPEN IT.
  • Open the Google account you want to move it to
    • MAKE sure you have the setting turned on to "Convert uploads to Google Docs editor format" 
  • drag & drop the "Keepers" folder in

You have just saved what YOU choose to take with you to your new adventure! It might even be smart to create a brand new Google account to keep your brain straight, or depending on how much you decide to keep, you might need it for storage purposes. 

Transferring ownership is a wonderful ability within Google Drive. If you are good with it and you don't have 1,000 files, rather than sharing or making others to make copies of files you own, you can transfer ownership. Yes, it must be done to each individual file - ugh - but it IS easy. OR ... share the folder with those who need/want these files and they can make their copies for themselves. One final option - if you have the ability, you could create a shared drive and drop files in there, adding on those who need/want them, and they can pull the files out and become the owners. This all depends on the sheer number and the comfort level of you and those you are sharing with.

ONE MORE THOUGHT ... have you thought about your email??? Let's tackle that next week!

*** Every Monday, I share a newsletter with a collection of Tech You Can Do resources. It is delivered right to your inbox. Interested? Sign up here!  ***

Sunday, June 11, 2023

A Scheduled Email You Can Do

I was surprised by an email last week. It was an email I'd scheduled to myself and I'd forgotten about it. It was a happy surprise - so I thought I'd put the thought out there for you. I was inspired last year by James Clear to do this and it's super simple. He suggested composing an email to yourself and schedule it for one year out answering this question:

"How, specifically, do you want your life to be better at this time next year?"

I challenge you to do this. I have already done this and scheduled it to arrive June 1, 2024. Don't limit yourself to improvements at school. I included things for my family, my health, and professionally. It doesn't have to be lengthy - include what makes sense to you.

Do you know how to schedule an email? It's really easy and there are many uses for it. I do it all the time to ensure information gets to people when it needs to be there. It's a huge help when I'm working on a project and I schedule email reminders (even to myself at times) because I know how crazy inboxes can be and I want to be respectful of that.

If you want to learn how, check out my blog "5 Intermediate Gmail Tips You Can Do". The "how to" is on Slide 4. 

Do you have another use for scheduling an email? I'd love to know! Reach out on any of the social medias or send me an email. 

*** Every Monday, I share a newsletter with a collection of Tech You Can Do resources. It is delivered right to your inbox. Interested? 
Sign up here!  ***