Monday, October 17, 2022

Communication You Can Do

I started this post awhile back and I'll admit ... I feel like a post about communication should be an example of the focus - good communication. I hesitate to hold myself up as an example of "good communication" since I don't know that I do it well. I try, but always feel like I fall short. The following quote is a guiding force for me. 

In my PLN recently, newsletters and forms of communication have been talked about and ideas shared and questioned. The "who" - "why" -"how" - "how often" - "what tool" are big questions. I don't think there is one correct answer - rather, if you are the one creating the communication, you need to account for your audience and their preferences. Another key to good communication is the relationship you have with those you are communicating with. 

Let's break it down:

WHO ➙ are you communicating with? Staff? Students? Admin? Parents? Community?

WHY ➙ are you doing this? Is it to train/teach? Share info? Remind? Update? 

HOW ➙ are you sending out communication? Is it on social media? Is it via email? A newsletter? A piece of paper, possibly hung up in the teacher area? Or a combo of two or more of these?

HOW OFTEN ➙ is this on a regular basis? What is the regularity - daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc?

WHAT TOOL ➙ this goes right along with "How" ... are you able to leverage to paid tool or do you need to stick to free tools? Do you need a tool that provides data/analytics? Do you know how the tool works?

If you can identify answers to all of these above, I think you are in good shape. If you can't answer them all, I suggest taking some time to think through them and maybe even have a conversation with others about them.

Here's how it helped me this year. I added the middle school & high school to the buildings I am supporting this year, so now I'm supporting all of our buildings preK-12. I've been in the elementary buildings for about 5 years, and I added the new intermediate school last year. I used to teach at the middle school, but I've done very little interacting with teachers at the high school. I felt it was important to communicate with the teachers ... all of them ... so they knew I was someone who was happy to help. I had a relationship with most of the teachers in our district, but some I didn't. I wanted to build their ability to trouble-shoot and identify resources that could help them, since our tech team was smaller and I didn't want to increase their "downtime" when an issue arose. We have limited funds, if any, for this. I had to do it regular enough they would remember me & come to expect it, yet not so often they'd overlook it and I couldn't sustain it. I needed a super easy way to reach ALL of them.

I weighed my options of a newsletter, blog, website, doc, or email and I realized I was over complicating matters. We have a staff group email already set up and email was going to be the way ANYthing "got" to them whether it was a newsletter or Doc, etc, so I went with a newsletter as an email. I pushed myself to come up with a creative title and landed on "🗣 Hey, RLSD - Did you know ...". Being mindful of my time - and my teachers - I decided every other week and I picked Tuesdays to send it out. (And yes, I put serious thought into which day of the week to send it.)

Now here's the fun part - Google Docs has added the building block called "Email draft". 🧡 it! I can draft the email in a Google Doc, giving me the ability to work on it over time ... and several ahead if I'd like ... and not worry about the "accidental" sending. I keep the info short and sweet. I link to more detailed info, so it's not packed with text. And of course, I sprinkle in emoji's to appeal to the visual interest. At the bottom, I inserted hyperlinks to important resources for continual reminders of their existence. When I'm ready to start the next one, I just make a copy and replace the info. Voilá!

In time, I plan to include a link to the folder where I have these drafts housed so staff can look back. I have gotten positive feedback from the first few I've shared out. I am trying to include timely info about our programming or updates along with keyboard shortcuts or other quick tips.

Question for you ➙ do you send out regular communication? What works for you? Have you found what doesn't? Want to toss some ideas around? I'd be happy to ... just connect - all my socials are found in the top right of my blog. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Getting Help You Can Do ... I did!

Recently, I reached out to fellow Google Innovator - Chris Smith - for help with Data Studio. I had a project I honestly didn't think was possible. Chris showed me it absolutely was possible! He made it happen and recently shared our story on his blog - Smith Visualizations. 

He has graciously allowed me to share it here as well. I know I have a lot of learning to do with Data Studio, but I have friends who are also patient teachers, so I know I'll continue learning.

Chris Smith - Smith Visualizations

If you have an idea or project in mind - especially one that you aren't sure if it's possible - reach out ... to me, to a colleague, to a virtual friend, to someone ... and allow them to help.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Start Your LMS You Can Do

School is back in session! We just completed our first week of school and I feel the rhythm of school settling in. It's going to be a roller coaster - for sure - but I do love routine and seeing students and colleagues on a regular basis.

Since we are starting a new year, I'm excited to share a file I created for the teachers in my district. We are continuing with the same LMS' we've used for numerous years - Schoology for our upper grades and Google Classroom for our younger grades. And this year, we are starting without the heavy threat of closure, so I feel like we can all take another step forward in our use of both platforms. 

But I also know we are not all at the same spot. We have brand new to teaching staff, we have brand new to our district staff, and we have a large group of returning staff, so I'm trying to be mindful of everyone's background. I've created a "one-pager" for each that will help you get started, take a step forward, and then to challenge you to add something new to your experience. 

I created them in Google Slides, so I will share the file, but I do want to note, I am working off experience in my district. If you are a teacher somewhere else, I truly hope this helps. If you are a coach and supporting other teachers, you may want to make a copy of the Slides and adjust it to best suit you and your teachers. I've also included a "template" if you wanted to duplicate them for other programs ... I think I might do this for additional programs we use.

Looking to make a copy? Here is "Start Your LMS You Can Do". 

As always, reach out if you have questions. Both Schoology and Google Classroom offer so many features and possibilities in our digital classrooms.

*** 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!  ***

Monday, August 8, 2022

Less IS More You Can Do

Truth #1 - I've not published a blog in quite some time.
Truth #2 - I've not spent as much time on social media this summer.
Truth #3 - I've not missed it.
Truth #4 - These past 2 years have been more than tiring ... and this coming year is also going to be tough, too.
Truth #5 - I'm ready to get back into it. 

I feel like I barely crept over the finish line in June of this year. I ended the year tired.

But now the new school year is here, I am ready. I've done a lot of thinking this summer and I've come to realize something. 

Less IS more.

I am one person and I cannot do everything. And I'm ok with this idea. I've not always been ... and I know I won't be perfect, but this is my focus for the year. I DID do professional learning this summer, but I didn't spend time learning new tools or applications - I spent time learning more about the ones I already use and I found some pretty cool things. I feel more confident with them. 

And I'm going to set goals that are more realistic. New blog twice a month ... new resources on TYCD: Resources twice a month ... new Templates for Teachers and Tech with Littles at least once a month. I'm also going to look around for some places to present.

I am also going to keep myself surrounded by good people. As a friend recently said in a text, "my coworkers are ridiculously amazing" ... I'm lucky to work with these people.

I hope as the new school year starts for you, you too, take a little time and really think about where you are spending your time and energy. Put it into the things that matter - the people who matter - and don't get caught up by "shiny" or "pinterest-y" things. 

You know what makes education REALLY work? The people who care. Not the programs, not the tools, not the politics. The people. 

*** 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!  ***

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

High AIMS presentations (June 15, 2022)

I WAS excited to jump back into presenting this week at one of the first conferences I presented at solo - High AIMS in Cincinnati, Ohio. I've not been to many face-to-face conferences yet and I was excited to be back in person and connect with people again.

This year, I had 2 solo presentations and 2 joint presentations planned. Since we experienced a wild storm, High AIMS has been cancelled - boo! - so I'm sharing out on behalf of Beth, Brittney, & myself. Please feel free to share widely and if you have questions, just let me know!

Google Classroom: Start to Finish
Presentation link

Google Classroom is an easy to use management system for the digital classroom. In this session, I will share 8 "Big Ideas" to help you set your Google Classroom up - in a way that is right for you - from the beginning.

Then, when the year (or grading period) is wrapping up, let's focus on 4 areas of importance to end the year on a good foot. I believe spending a little bit of time closing out the year (or grading period) is the key to ending in a productive manner so you can start next year (or grading period) off well.

Let's do it together!

Tech with Littles (with Brittney Priore)
Presentation link

Using technology in the classroom with our youngest students can be challenging ... but it CAN be done! It can also be fun and educational. It's all about the HOW. Join us, a 1st grade teacher and technology integration specialist as we share how you can use technology in your classroom with your students.

Creating Templates Using Google Tools (with Beth Kingsley)
Presentation link

Participants will be challenged to think differently about projects and assignments no matter the age and ability level of the student. This session will inspire teachers to go beyond worksheets while meeting the standards. Participants will learn how to challenge their students in a collaborative setting to do more than they may have ever thought possible, all while using technology.

In this session, participants will learn how to utilize Google tools to create interactive and engaging templates in their classrooms. Templates will provide students a starting point for creativity and creation. Participants that bring lessons will walk away with templates that can be immediately used in their classrooms.

Organize Google Drive in 6 Steps
Presentation link

Is your Google Drive a mess? Do you struggle to find files or folders? I can help! I’ve helped numerous teachers (& students) organize their Drive. No tricks involved … but it will be fun! I promise. Give me 60 minutes, max, and we will get you started on the path to long-term organization that you will WANT to stay on top of.

We want to say thank you to Jennie Thompson for all the work she did to plan and organize High AIMS. 

Please reach out below or on the socials if you have questions or want to learn more.