Something kicks my posterior way too often. It’s a frenemy of mine, you see. Yep, that’s right. FREN-E-MY. Think of polar opposites. Some days are swing and duck, while others are smile and enjoy good luck. Are you picking up what I’m laying down? I’m speaking of that ceaseless, consistent, and never-changing thorn in my side…and friend by my side. Time. As a high school Language Arts teacher of eighteen years, I continually challenge myself to be more disciplined and efficient while improving productivity, quality, and creativity. I’m trying my best, and usually that suffices. Let’s take a look at five ways I’m attempting to tame time.
Think about it. How many occasions have you re-searched for an educational resource that you used just last week? Can’t remember the name exactly? Hmmm. That doesn’t help. Guess the only thing to do is keep searching. Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking. Take a look at how something so simple can help you spend time so wisely.
All right. Don’t let me offend anyone here. However, have you ever found yourself on a Friday teaching a co-worker the same concept that was shared with other colleagues Monday through Thursday? Was it something that could have been screencast or video recorded? If so, go ahead and do it. Not only will you save time by sending your colleagues hyperlinks to your screencasts or video recordings, but your forward-thinking co-workers will also be able to pause and replay as they practice the very same concepts you have taught. And don’t worry about getting your recordings perfect. If perfection is a part of your plan, you will defeat the purpose and lose all kinds of time. A screencasting guru once told me, “Whether you burp, your dog barks, or your wife hollers at the kids in the background, keep right on screencasting and recording. ‘Cause if you stop at every little imperfection, you’ll never finish. Plus, all that’s real. So be real.” Screencast-O-Matic and Jing are two free programs to use. However, if you can swing it monetarily, Camtasia rocks. Please find below one of my better screencasts and a hyperlink to many more here.
I’m all for the face-to-face meetings. Physically being in a room full of enthusiastic educators adds a much needed jolt to teachers’ psyches. However, sometimes the extra time it takes to navigate a long walk across the campus, to engage in an impromptu conversation, to disengage from that same conversation, to ascend a flight of stairs, and to wait an extra five minutes for a late colleague to arrive makes a Chevrolet 454 engine seem fuel efficient. Oh, how I sometimes want to simply stay put and use a video conferencing tool to connect with my colleagues and collaborate in a scheduled meeting. It really is so easy. Google Hangouts, Skype, and Microsoft Lync are all valuable technology tools that allow people to meet in a very efficient manner. Google Hangouts and Lync allow up to 10 people on one video call, while Skype boasts a maximum number of 25 in a group video call. As if virtual meetings with colleagues aren’t enticing enough, don’t forget about joining classes with a fellow teacher in another school district to team-teach. It may sound complex, but the only tough part is trying to match up class times. Although I have only shared classes through Microsoft Lync with teachers from my school district, the process was awesome. I will definitely try again soon.
I jokingly tell people all the time, “Using Google Forms can help solve just about any issue…maybe even world peace.” Seriously, though. A precisely constructed Google Form can not only create magic in your classrooms, but it can also save so much time when gathering resources among teachers. Instead of spending hours upon hours discovering helpful videos, current events, lesson plans, and other valuable internet resources, simply create a Google Form and share it with your colleagues. True synergy then occurs as a group of focused educators scramble to share their favorite resources. Watch the video below to take a quick look at this process in action.
Tweetdeck and Twitter Lists
Let’s be real. If someone is “following” 20K people on Twitter, there is no way those interesting tweets are all being read. There is not enough time in the day. Heck, I am following over 600 and would like to follow more, but I find it challenging at times to keep up with the overwhelming amount of awesome information that flows directly to me. What is my solution? Two things. 1. I use Tweetdeck to effortlessly browse certain hashtags or members of my PLN. By setting up only my desired columns, I can easily scan #edchat, #edtech, and #engchat hashtags all at once. 2. Creating and using Twitter lists also saves me a bunch of time. When I follow someone new, I immediately add him/her to one of a multitude of lists with titles that include: edadmin, ELA, educators, edtech gurus, and many more. Here’s a quick video tutorial to get you started. So when you find time is kicking your rear end at work, take just a second to give yourself a hand and replace analog with digital. Will you be more efficient, productive, creative, and…happy? Who knows. Only time will tell.