As more of our work evolves to digital formats, being efficient and staying organized is essential. Here are five quick tips and strategies.
1. HAVE A HOME FOR LEARNING
Create a space for students to access every single day—one place where their learning begins. In my classroom, that’s our website, where there’s a Google Doc called the “Assignment Calendar” that outlines all of our lessons and learning. Whether the next activity is on Google Classroom, Kahoot!, or independent research, this home for learning helps my students focus, shows them where to start, and provides an important resource for learning. Absent? Late? Just weren’t paying attention? Check the site.
2. CREATE A SYSTEM: FILES, FOLDERS, AND NAMES
The only wrong way to name a new file or folder is to leave it untitled. Use a consistent naming convention for all of your work. Use folders to organize all of your files and keep things in a place that makes sense for you.
With Google Drive, I create a new master folder in My Drive for each school year. Within the 2017–18 folder, I have a folder for each prep I teach. Then each unit gets its own folder starting with 01 Beginning of the Year. With the 01 preface, my folders stay organized in chronological order. On Google Classroom, I also name my assignments with numbers (e.g., 01 Student Data Form) to create an easy-to-track common language about the work in our classroom. Using Drive’s features like Star and Color Change also helps me find my important files faster.
3. SCHEDULE IN ADVANCE
I can’t plan every lesson detail ahead of time, but whenever possible I like not only to plan, but also to schedule, in advance. Using tools like Remind and Google Classroom, you can schedule announcements, assignments, and reminders. Your school email service can probably do this too. By scheduling work in advance I save myself some time and trouble in the hectic rush of the school day.
4. KNOW HOW TO SEARCH
Sometimes, things are just lost. You know you have the untitled document somewhere, and it was edited last Tuesday, but you have no idea where you saved it. Before starting over from scratch, explore your device or platform’s search functions. A little work learning how to search effectively on Mac OSX, Windows, or Google Drive can go a long way. On most platforms, you can narrow your search by many different categories including file type, owner, words, and range of dates modified.
5. REFLECT INTENTIONALLY
Finally, reflect and grow. There are always new tools and too many options, which makes it easy to overwhelm students—and ourselves. Find a good notetaking app or process for you (these days, I recommend Google Keep). Ask for feedback from your students and peers, too. It’s important to be intentional and meaningful with technology.
Adam Schoenbart (@MrSchoenbart) is the Assistant Principal at Darien High School in Connecticut.