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Blog Post

Where Am I?

Today was the first ever national principals’ Teachmeet in Ireland, which was hosted brilliantly by principal, Kathleen Byrne. I’ll be writing more about the event, which was attended by over 100 delegates in a later blog post. I gave a very short 3 minute presentation called: “Where Am I?” and I promised to share a bit more on Anseo.net.

The idea behind the title “Where Am I?” was based on one of the many questions I have to ask myself when I start work each day. On a normal day, I am needed to do morning supervision in school but often I might have an early meeting with a teacher or parent or I may even have to be somewhere else in the country. My talk was about how technology helps me to plan what I am doing in work, when I’m doing it and where I should be! I use quite a lot of tools to do this but wanted to focus on just three.

Question 1: Where is that email?

I get a lot of emails in my job. Most of them are advertisements from companies trying to sell me anything from photocopiers to playground equipment. I get several from mailing lists such as the IPPN’s excellent service. Some are from staff and some are from parents. There’s nothing I hate more than an email hanging around in my inbox but sometimes there’s an email that I can’t deal with straight away. However, I hate seeing it lurking there. I use a tool called ToDoist to save these sorts of emails for a future date. By using a Google Chrome extension, I can click on a link to save the email as a ToDo item and set it for the date I’m ready to deal with it then I can archive the email and forget about it. In a while, Google will be releasing an email client called Inbox (it’s currently only in use by invitation) and this lets you “snooze” emails for a while letting them disappear until a chosen time.

Question 2: Where is everyone?

I have 28 people working in my school in various guises. Most of the staff are full time teachers and SNAs but I have lots of different part time teachers. I have 3 teachers shared with other schools and I have part time HSCL, SCP and other acronym-tagged personnel and it’s hard to keep track of EPV days, sick days, trips, etc. We use Google Apps for Education, which is free. Everyone has an email address SOMEONE@carloweducatetogether.ie. We set up a shared calendar that can only be seen and edited by anyone in the domain. Today, I had 2 staff in the UK, I was at the IPPN conference and another teacher was on an EPV day. Everyone has known about this for weeks as all staff have access to the shared calendar. This helps me organise things like yard duty.

Question 3: Where is everything else?

We have a load of tools that we use all the time. There are so many that it’s almost impossible to keep up with them all so we use a web site called Symbaloo. Symbaloo sets up an online grid where I can add links to web sites, Google documents and policies. In our grid, we have links to Aladdin (our MIS), the school web site, the school Facebook and Twitter pages, our YouTube channel and other regular sites that we use daily. I also have services that we subscribe to as a staff such as MangaHigh, Folens, etc. Finally, I also have rotas, timetables and policies on another area of the grid. It’s a one stop shop for all the services we use in the school.

There are many more questions we ask ourselves as principals everyday and sometimes technology can help answer them. Of all the tools I use in the school, there are always 5 tabs open in my browser: Gmail for my email, ToDoist for to do lists and hiding emails away for a while, Google Calendar so I can see where I’m supposed to be, Aladdin because it has every students’ details in front of me at all times and Symbaloo because that’s where everything else is.

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