A colleague of mine gave me some advice when I first began work as a principal. She suggested that I take good notes of meetings and interactions with students, staff, and community members. When entering a meeting, I always take a notebook to jot down notes and list action items. This past year I have started to take my laptop and am using a note-taking program called Journler to help me keep track of the day-to-day interactions and meetings that I encounter.
Created for Mac OS only, Journler is a notebook- and entry-based information manager that allows one to keep notes about staff, student and community interactions, meetings and daily school interactions. Labeled by some as "iTunes for text files," its features include: (1) integration with picture and movie applications, both iPhoto and iMovie; (2) on-the-fly addition of audio, video and still images into entries; (3) document importing; (4) instantaneous searching and filtering; and (5) entry-tagging and Smart Folders.
Whenever I have a meeting, a significant student or staff interaction, or phone conversation, I use this program to jot down notes and impressions. It provides a tool for me to document the day-to-day interactions at school, and a quick and easy method to organize and recall information from those notes.
The tagging feature is something that I find very helpful. Let's say that I'm writing up a note about a discipline interaction that occurred between a teacher and a student. When I create an entry, Journler automatically assigns a date and time stamp. In addition I am given the option of assigning the entry to a category. In this case I might use "discipline" as the category. In addition to categories, I am also presented with a tag field where I can assign tags that describe the entry. For example I might create tags for the student's and teacher's names plus a tag for the location of the interaction.
Combined with Smart Folders this can be a great organizational tool. Smart Folders allows the grouping of entries according to inherent properties such as title, category, tag, or date. Whenever you change an entry's properties or a Smart Folder's criteria, Journler automatically updates the content of the folder to reflect those changes. So if I create a Smart Folder for a particular student or teacher, I can easily keep track of notes that reference that person.
With the amount of information, meetings, and student/staff interactions of which I need to keep track, I am finding a tool like Journler to be very handy and quite useful.
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