Search results for evernote (22)
One of the challenges of effective school leadership is taking action and making progress every day, even with incomplete information.
As we work with our teachers, spend time in classrooms, and glean information from students, parents, and other staff, we start to develop hunches.
Perhaps we have a hunch that someone isn’t adequately planning and preparing for their lessons. Or a hunch that they’re yelling at students, or not keeping track of assessments, or any of dozens of other possible issues. The possibilities are infinite, and it’s our job to sort through them.
As leaders, our hunches demand action. Of course, the action you take to follow up on a hunch is very different from the action you take when you have solid evidence.
But it’s just as important to follow up on hunches, because often enough, they’re right. And even when a hunch is wrong, resolving it can prevent serious missteps.
The Avoidance Trap
It took me several years to realize this, but hunches tend to fuel one of the most challenging behavior patterns for leaders: avoidance.
I don’t know about you, but if I have an un-articulated hunch that something isn’t going well in a particular classroom, my natural tendency is to avoid it. (Clearly this is not a helpful tendency—it’s something I have to deliberately work against.)
Our hunches can work against us because they operate at a tacit, almost subconscious level. If we merely feel that something isn’t right, it’s too easy to make a rational-sounding excuse to avoid following up.
So what’s the solution? I think the best approach is to be explicit about our hunches, even the most unreasonable ones.
Articulating Your Hunches—In Writing
After years of having hunches, following up on some of them, and ignoring plenty of others, I’m convinced that the best approach is to be honest, explicit, and intentional about dealing with your hunches.
But we tend not to do this because it feels nasty. It feels unfair to make accusations against our staff, even if it’s only in our own minds.
But if we don’t articulate and interrogate our own hunches, we’ll unwittingly ignore evidence that can resolve them. We’ll let avoidance rather than reality determine the outcome.
So here’s a simple process for articulating your hunches:
- Make a list of your entire staff
- Write out your hunches, both positive and negative, for each person
- Encrypt or password-protect the file (you can do this in Evernote or Word)
- As you gather new evidence, update your list to revise your hunches and articulate new ones
Here’s an example:
Jenna is talented and has potential, but doesn’t put in a lot of effort. She tends to cut corners and not prepare for class enough, so she’s often winging it or wasting class time getting things together. I need to look for evidence of her planning and preparation, and push her to be the best she can be.
Karen doesn’t get along well with her team, and I think this is mainly due to her communication style. I need to look for evidence that she is being honest but respectful to her teammates, and encourage her to assume that her colleagues have positive intentions.
Again, I think we don’t do this enough because it feels wrong to say things, even to ourselves, that we think may not be accurate. But only by articulating and interrogating our hunches can we come to an accurate understanding of the leadership challenges we’re really facing with our staff.
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Hunches are an important part of your leadership agenda, a topic we’ll focus on in-depth in the High-Performance Instructional Leadership Network, which begins in July. Join by June 30 to save $50/month.
Photographers have a way of ending arguments about which camera is best: “The best camera…is the one you have with you.” It doesn’t matter how good your gear is if you leave it at home.
It’s the same way with our productivity tools: The best tool is the one you have with you.
No one is a bigger “iPad for administrators” guy than me, but I often find that my iPhone is even more indispensable. Why? Because it’s always with me, even when I can’t carry my iPad.
Even better than always having a single device with you, though, is always having your data with you, regardless of which device you’re using. Fortunately, your tablet and smartphone can work well together if you’re using the right apps.
I tend to use my iPhone and iPad for many of the same things, but the iPad really shines for:
- Taking notes in classrooms or meetings (it’s faster and it looks more professional than fiddling with your phone)
- Reading – the screen size makes a big difference
- Planning – I much prefer mind-mapping and writing out detailed notes on the bigger screen
- Email – especially if I have my Bluetooth external keyboard
On the other hand, the iPhone is great for more frequent message-checking and for quickly jotting down tasks.
Since I use both, it’s important that they talk together and share data seamlessly, so here are some recommendations for making that happen.
1. Use “Universal” Apps
A lot of apps work on both the iPhone and the iPad. If you’re not sure if your apps will run on both, fire up the App Store and go to the “Purchased” tab, then select “Not on This iPhone/iPad” to find apps you’ve bought but haven’t installed. Many of these will be apps you bought for iPhone that also happen to work on iPad, or vice-versa.
2. Use iCloud
iCloud allows your Apple products’ apps to sync data and settings. Make sure you’re signed into the same Apple ID on both devices so your data stays in sync.
In the Settings app, go to iCloud to enter your Apple ID email address and password:
3. Use Dropbox
For apps that allow you to create files, documents, or data, iCloud doesn’t always do the trick.
Try Dropbox sync whenever it’s an option in an app – Dropbox will hold and sync the data for the app, so it’s accessible and always up-to-date on all your devices.
4. Use Built-In Sync Services
Some apps have their own synchronization service, so dig into the “settings” section (look for a gear icon) and see if you can share data across different devices. Evernote, Remember the Milk (a to-do list), and Buy Me a Pie (a shopping list) are among the apps that have their own sync service.
Most of the above will apply to Android phones and tablets too.
How do you get the most from your smartphone and tablet?
I frequently say in my workshops that we need to think more about text and less about documents.
Why? Because text is agile. Text can move. Text can go places. Documents—bless their hearts, as we say in Arkansas—are great for preserving formatting and staying the same, but bad at moving. Bad at helping us take action.
Text is how we think, how we talk, how we get work done. That’s why I’m so excited about the relatively new iPhone and iPad app Drafts, which will run you less than $4 in the App Store.
Drafts takes the idea that text is meant to be sent and raises it to the 10th power. What does it do?
First, it opens fast. Hit the icon from your home screen, and Drafts instantly presents you with a text box and a keyboard. Type something, and select an action, and you can do some amazing things with a single tap. For example:
- Append what you typed to an existing text document in your Dropbox account
- Create a new note in Evernote
- Send an email
- Send a text message
- Create a new action in your to-do list
The best part? This list is as far from exhaustive as you could possibly imagine. The range of actions you can specify in Drafts is staggering.
Drafts also supports TextExpander Touch, one of my favorite apps for typing faster and saving time.
Image courtesy of Agile Tortoise, the developer
For more tips on getting the most from your iPad, you may be interested in my upcoming workshop iPad Essentials for School Leaders.
I could use some help with getting control of my e-mail. Do you have any suggestions?
Email is increasingly the killer in our line of work, because:
- Anyone can reach us via email
- All kinds of stuff can come to us
- Much of the work needs to happen offline, yet we still get email about it
- As leaders, we get CC’d on or asked about a huge range of issues
We tend to think of email as an added burden, but it’s really just a communication medium like any other. The problems we have with email are just digitized versions of the challenges we face in the physical world.
I’ve been reading a 38-year-old book on the nature of leaders’ work, and much of what the author says about dealing with snail mail still applies, even though most of our mail is electronic rather than paper now.
There are a couple of common kinds of mail that we tend to get, so let’s take each in turn.
What it is: You probably get regular updates from organizations you’ve interacted with in the past. Newsletters tend to accumulate since we never really have time to read them, yet we may want to stay updated on causes and organizations we care about.
How to handle it: If you’re no longer interested, unsubscribe. If you are interested, skim & delete. If something really catches your eye, forward the newsletter to yourself or a colleague, adding a note at the top about what you want to do with the information.
What doesn’t work: Letting them accumulate, either in your inbox or in a folder, in the hopes that you’ll read them someday. You won’t, and even if you can make time in the future, they’d be out of date.
Physical-world parallel: When we have physical piles of paper in our offices, it’s clear that we have a mess that needs to be cleaned up. With email, our “space” may not be as limited, but it can get just as cluttered.
What it is: You probably get a substantial number of advertisements about products, conferences, books, and other things someone thinks you might want to buy. Typically these are from legitimate vendors.
How to handle it: Skim & delete. This is a great thing to do from your phone or iPad in spare moments, since it’s quick and easy.
If you are getting repeated email advertisements for something that you have no interest in, scroll to the bottom and look for the unsubscribe link. It only takes a second, you can do it from your phone, and it works – legitimate companies will stop emailing you if you click the unsubscribe link.
What doesn’t work: Staying on thousands of high-volume marketing lists that you aren’t interested in. If you’ve hit delete a dozen times and it’s not helping, next time, hit unsubscribe.
Physical-world parallel: If you don’t want to hear from someone, let them know. The good news with email is that they won’t be offended.
Spam & Phishing
What it is: Deceptive or fraudulent messages from shady senders, peddling things like get-rich schemes, prescription medication, and luxury goods. Phishing messages may try to persuade you to login to a fake version of a bank or social network website.
How to handle it: Mark as spam in your email program.
What doesn’t work: Clicking on anything in these messages is a bad idea – spam/phishing senders won’t respect unsubscribe requests, and you may end up on a fake website that will steal your information.
Physical-world parallel: Don’t give scam artists the time of day.
A quick note about “Mark as Spam”: Be sure to unsubscribe rather than “mark as spam” for anything that is education-related and from a legitimate company or real person. If you mark education-related messages as spam, the algorithms that filter your mail may start to mark other messages as spam simply because they contain the same words.
I was reviewing my spam folder today and found at least four legitimate education senders that were getting sent to spam, presumably because other people had marked them as spam instead of unsubscribing.
FYIs, CYAs, and CCs
What it is: Email from your colleagues that may not require any action on your part, but has been sent to you to keep you in the loop, obtain your tacit approval, or give you a heads-up about issues that may escalate.
How to handle it: Read quickly, then archive or delete.
If you know you want to save a copy for future reference, yet your email program automatically deletes old messages, forward it to your Evernote account for safekeeping.
You might sometimes want to send a reply, such as “Sounds good to me – thanks for letting me know how you handled it.” On your iPhone or iPad, you can create shortcuts for phrases like this, so they’re only a few letters, like “sgtm.” Go to Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts.
What doesn’t work: Some bad ideas for dealing with CCs:
- Letting them accumulate, without reading them
- Reading oldest to newest, and replying to a now-outdated message in an active discussion
- Using mailbox rules to divert them to a folder – even CCs may contain extremely important information
- Remaining silent when you don’t want to provide tacit approval – if people CC’d you, they probably think they have your go-ahead
Physical-world parallel: If you hear something you’re not OK with as a leader, say something. If people give you information and you want to do something about it, the ball’s in your court.
Requests for Your Action
What it is: Someone wants you to do something that will take up your valuable time.
How to handle it: You can either decline the request, do it, delegate it, or defer it.
If you agree to do something at a later date, let the sender know, and add it to your to-do list. Get to it whenever you can.
If it’s time-sensitive, add it to your calendar. If there’s no time on your calendar to squeeze it in, this is an important realization to come to.
What doesn’t work: Letting requests accumulate, unanswered, in the hopes that we’ll have time some day to deal with them all. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know this will never happen.
Instead, we need to put these requests in our to-do lists or calendars, where we can realistically make decisions about what we can get done in the time available to us.
Physical-world parallel: Email is kind of like fresh fish – keep it around too long, and it starts to get unpleasant.
What it is: Substantive inquiries from well-meaning people who deserve respectful responses…that we really don’t have time to write.
How to handle it: Write a good response once, save it, and re-use it next time someone else asks the same question. As a school leader, you probably get the same questions around the same time each year, so there’s no reason you should have to re-think and re-write your reply to things like requests to change teachers, ideas to start unfeasible new programs, unsolicited job applications, and so forth.
What doesn’t work: Responding tersely from your phone at 11pm. When people take the time to write to us, they expect some level of reciprocation, even though they know we are busy.
Physical-world parallel: People don’t expect us to say yes to everything, but it would be strange indeed for someone to ask a question face-to-face and get a blank stare. If we don’t respond to people’s emails, clearly and honestly, they’ll track us down in person to get a response.
Data & Documentation
What it is: Stuff people send you to let you know they’re doing their jobs and what’s going on with students.
How to handle it: Designate a place to keep it – an app, a folder, etc. – and put it there as fast as possible. If it needs to be logged, have your administrative assistant take on the task. If it needs to be reviewed, schedule time every two weeks (or however often you need to).
What doesn’t work: If you aren’t keeping track of what you’ve received, you can’t follow up with people who aren’t on track. And if you have to think long and hard about where to save every single thing you receive, your system needs to be clarified and streamlined.
Physical-world parallel: Piles get out of control fast, whether they’re physical or digital. Decide where it goes, and don’t make a big deal about putting it there when it comes in.
What it is: Something you need to stop and deal with right away.
How to handle it: True emergencies probably don’t involve email very much, so close your email program (after printing the message, if necessary) and go deal with the crisis in person.
What doesn’t work: Trying to handle non-email issues over email – especially when tensions are high.
Physical-world parallel: When an email is about something that needs careful handling, we need to be there in person and see it through.
Just a Tool
Remember, email is just a tool for communicating about our work. To the extent that it serves that purpose, it’s useful, but it’s a constant battle to limit it to that purpose.
Note: I don’t actually delete my email, but instead “archive” it by moving it out of the inbox. I’ll use the term delete since that’s what most people do.
What other kinds of email do you get? How do you handle it?
A participant in my iPad workshop writes:
Do you have recommendations for apps to work with documents in Dropbox?
Great question, Michelle. There are a couple of ways to address this issue.
Use Text—Not Documents—Whenever Possible
Documents are a pain. When you create a document, you have to decide on:
- A format (such as .doc or .rtf)
- An app that can open them
- A filename
- A location in your folder system
Since the iPad doesn’t have a file folder system, isn’t friendly toward filenames, and doesn’t have any truly outstanding apps for managing traditional documents, I tend to avoid documents as much as possible and just use plain-text notes in Evernote (which does support some formatting, but not complex document layout).
But as principals, we often need to edit documents that are in a particular format for a particular reason—for instance, teacher observation forms with tables, checklists, comment boxes, and so forth. We’d all like to be able to use these documents on our iPads, but the truth is that it seldom works. Complex document layouts tend not to work correctly on the iPad.
Just Managing Files
If all you need to do is find, view, and send files and documents of various types, Dropbox is great. I’ve been recommending it in my workshops for a long time. If you’re interested in using Dropbox to sync your files across all of your devices, check out Dr. Frank Buck’s free ebook Get Organized! with Dropbox (PDF).
Dropbox allows you to share any file by emailing a link to whomever you’d like. It’s great for syncing data and managing files and folders on your iPad, but Dropbox does not allow you to edit Word documents.
While you can send documents from Dropbox to Apple’s app Pages (which is like Word), this creates a copy every time you move between apps, so you end up with a bunch of versions in both places. Not ideal.
(If you have found an app that syncs with Dropbox and is great for editing Word documents on the iPad, please leave a comment and let me know.)
Managing & Editing Word Documents with Dropbox + Pages
If you do occasionally need to edit a Word document that you have in Dropbox on your iPad, here are the steps to do so, using Apple’s iPad word processor app Pages.
From Dropbox to Pages: Click the icon in the top-right corner in Dropbox (which looks like an arrow going down into a box) when viewing a document -> Open In… -> Pages (Note: this menu will only show compatible apps that you have installed – so if you don’t have Pages, it won’t appear here).
Pages to Dropbox: Wrench icon in upper right when editing the document -> Share and Print -> Open in Another App -> Word format -> Choose App -> Dropbox
Here are visual directions:
Again, not a great solution. But there is an emerging solution that appears to be better than Pages and Dropbox.
Google Docs, the online word processor that’s been around for nearly a decade, is now part of Google Drive, the online storage service that is similar to Dropbox in many respects. Essentially, you are given online storage folder that is synchronized with your computer.
Google recently released a Drive app for the iPad. I haven’t recommended it in my workshops because it is so new and the features have been very limited, but it’s improving rapidly, so it will probably become one of the main apps I recommend.
I would recommend installing the Drive app on your computer and your iPad (so they sync), and creating documents in Google Docs whenever possible, to keep them simple and compatible.
How Word documents work in Google Drive
You can either upload a Word document to Google Drive and just use Drive as a storage space (in which case no changes to the Word document can be made in Google Docs), or you can convert the document to Google Docs format so it’s editable. This is a choice that you make when you upload the document from your computer.
You can only convert documents on your computer, not in the iPad app, so on your iPad, you’re limited to editing documents that are in Google Docs format. You also can’t convert back to Word format from the iPad app, but you can “share” (not send) the document with other Google Drive users. This is a crucial difference between Dropbox and Google Drive: Dropbox allows you to share a file with anyone, but Google Drive requires that the other person have a Google account, which is better for collaborating on documents, but a pain for just sending them.
So, if you do occasionally need to edit and send Word documents from your iPad, Google Drive won’t work – see the rather convoluted steps above using Dropbox and Pages for a way to get the job done.
If you do want to make the transition from Word to Google Docs, you can import all of your existing documents from your computer into Google Drive with just a few clicks. You’ll need to decide whether to keep the documents in Word format (in which case they won’t be editable), or to convert them to Google Docs format (in which case you can’t convert them back into Word documents on the iPad and send them to people).
To upload files or folders to Google Drive from your computer:
To convert when uploading to Google Drive:
For now at least, you have to choose between being able to share Word-format documents from Google Drive on your iPad, or being able to edit your documents in the Google Drive app by keeping them in Google Docs format. On your desktop computer or laptop, you don’t have to choose, as all are options.
Once More: Text!
As you can see, dealing with document formats and files is complicated. To the greatest extent possible, just use plain text. In three years of using the iPad as a principal, I have never once wished I had put more of my plain-text notes into Word, Pages, or Google documents. Evernote has been a great way to organize, save, and find all of my notes, so start there if you’re looking for a way to manage information on your iPad.
But hopefully the tips above are helpful, at least until our options on the iPad improve.
Do you have any advice to share on dealing with documents on the iPad? If so, please leave a comment.
It’s the time of year when we’re inundated with articles about new year’s resolutions. While I’m not a huge fan of over-promising ourselves how we’ll make immediate changes when the calendar rolls over, it’s a great opportunity to reflect and consider some doable steps.
What are some small steps you can take to boost your productivity in the new year?
This winter break, I’ve been leading a workshop called High-Intensity Leadership, and one of the concepts I introduce in this workshop is called the robot.
No, it’s not a dance; it’s a metaphor for our system of tools, strategies, and processes that work together to support your work as a school leader. When this system works well, the robot handles a lot of the heavy lifting involved in managing our work.
There are many predictable things about our work (including its high degree of unpredictability), so we can plan for how we’ll handle recurring and predictable issues. How you can you set up tools and processes that will make it straightforward to handle whatever it is you routinely have to handle?
The practical answer is that we need to have PEEP: a Place for Everything and Everything in its Place. If you think of something you need to do, where do you write it? If you make an appointment with someone, does it go on a sticky note? A paper calendar? In your iPhone? If you get an important piece of mail, what do you do with it?
As you think through more and more of these small pieces, true curveballs become increasingly rare. You have a measured, polite response ready for the angry email you get from a parent. You know where to put the data teachers turn into you.
And as a result, you don’t accumulate a big backlog of work. If you get busy and things do start to pile up, you can dig through the pile quickly because you know what to do with everything.
The key is to design the system to match your work. In other words, to program the robot, and let it carry the load for you.
What else is part of your robot?
Have you ever wondered if there’s a 21st-century update for the legal pad or composition book? As school leaders, we have to keep documentation on a wide range of issues. Fortunately, there’s a great app called Evernote that’s perfect for taking and storing notes.
We recently held a workshop called Evernote for Educators, in which “The Nerdy Teacher” Nick Provenzano shared how he uses Evernote to organize all of his lesson plans, materials, and student work in his high school English classroom.
I’ve been using Evernote for about 5 years as a school administrator, so I thought I would share how I’ve set up Evernote to work for me.
What is Evernote?
Evernote is a cloud-based note storage app. It stores notes in HTML format, which means it’s great for saving web pages, but of course you can just type into it. You can also copy and paste, forward emails to it, and clip articles from the web. It can also save images, e.g. from photos you take with your phone, as well as any kind of file attachment.
It’s perfect for all the kinds of information you want to have in an electronic format, but don’t necessarily want to keep as files in folders.
First, create an account at Evernote.com, then install the Evernote app on all of your devices – PC and/or Mac, phone, tablet, etc. If it runs apps, it probably runs Evernote.
Next, create an Inbox notebook and mark this as the default notebook. In the desktop app, you can do this by right-clicking on it and selecting “Notebook Settings,” then ticking the checkbox that says “Make this my default notebook.”
You can then create a few notebooks for personal and work-related notes. If you’re not sure how many notebooks you need, err on the side of fewer; you can always use search to find what you’re looking for. If you want, you can add notebooks to a “stack,” but this probably isn’t necessary unless you have a lot of notebooks.
Grab Your Evernote Email Address
Next, you’ll want to add your Evernote email address to your contacts. To find this email address, click the Account button, then the Account Info option. It will be in the format email@example.com, but the “something” part will be a random string of characters, so it’s somewhat secret.
What’s this for? Any time you have something in an email that you want to save securely, searchably, and forever, you can simply forward the message to your Evernote account using this special address.
If you use Gmail or Google Apps for Education for your email, you know how powerful it is to be able to search through your email. But having a critical file or piece of documentation in your Evernote account lets you organize it into notebooks and do more with it; plus, if the original message gets deleted, Evernote will still have it.
Learn How to Use Search
Search is the most powerful feature of Evernote. Because the search feature is so flexible, I spend hardly any time at all organizing my notes. Here are some basic tips, and here are some insanely powerful advanced search techniques.
You can do yourself a favor and use Evernote consistently to make searching easier. For example, if I take notes on a formal observation in a particular teacher’s classroom, I always use the format “Teacherlastname Formal Observation 2012-11-18″ (where 2012-11-18 is the YYYY-MM-DD date).
If it’s a walkthrough, I use “Teacherlastname Walkthrough 2012-11-18″ and so forth.
This helps me distinguish between observation notes, walkthrough notes, and everything else where a teacher’s name might be mentioned.
You can use the tags feature to specifically tag notes in this way, or you can just use the appropriate terms in the title of the note.
Start Saving Stuff
I could go on for ten thousand more words, and there are tons of great books on Evernote, but the most important advice I can give is to start using Evernote to save your stuff.
If it’s something you’d put in a composition book or binder, put it in Evernote instead.
The best part? Because your notebook capacity is virtually endless (100,000 notes), you really don’t have to worry about whether something is important enough to merit saving. This cuts down on your decision-making time when you’re dealing with email, meeting notes, handouts from meetings, and so forth.
Develop Your System Based on What You Need to Find
Your system will be different from mine, and it should be. I recommend making revisions to your system based on your subsequent needs for finding things in Evernote. If you’re able to quickly and easily find what you need on a consistent basis, you’re doing it right. If you’re spending too much time saving things that you never need, be a bit more choosy in what you save. And if you’re tagging the heck out of your notes only to find that they’re easy to find with save, you can cut back on the tagging.
What’s It Good For?
Hopefully this gives you enough to get started. Now, for the ever-growing list of things I use Evernote for:
- Walkthrough notes
- Formal observations
- Taking notes in meetings
- Saving copies of important (e.g. CYA) emails
- Saving of emails with big file attachments that I may or may not care about later, which I don’t want clogging my finite inbox
- Saving photos of bulletin boards, student work, or other stuff I see around school (the text in photos becomes searchable!)
- Saving photos of handwritten notes and cards, so I can remember what I said
- Storing a PDF of my school directory, so every student’s phone number is easy to find without logging into our school’s student information system
Leave a comment and tell me what you use Evernote for!
I often get asked which iPad apps to use for classroom observations. While there are some apps built specifically for this purpose, I find that the most important feature is the ability to capture notes quickly.
I recently conducted my first observation using TextExpander Touch for the iPad, and it worked great. TextExpander is primarily designed for integrating with other apps, but you can also write directly in it, then send the note via email.
What is TextExpander? It’s an app that allows you to type a few short letters – a key phrase – and have that replaced with whatever text you specify – even whole paragraphs. For example, I have our entire observation rubric in TextExpander, so when I type “DanielsonRubric” I instantly get the full rubric inserted into my note. This is a huge timesaver for commonly used phrases.
I’ve previously recommended doing observations in Evernote directly, or via the intermediary app FastEver, but here’s my updated advice:
- Write in TextExpander
- Email the note to your Evernote address, plus yourself and/or the teacher
- Don’t bother with typing into Evernote or FastEver – the former is slow, and the latter crashes sometimes.
TextExpander Touch is stable, and it doesn’t add any unnecessary formatting or ads when you send a note via email. If you need to access or edit a note, you can do so in Evernote, which is still where I recommend storing everything like this.
The fine folks at Evernote, in addition to creating the best cross-platform application for keeping all of your information at your fingertips, have recently released two great new free apps that I want to highlight.
First, Clearly is a new tool for reading articles, news stories, and blog posts from websites without all the cruft that typically surrounds them. Clearly is a browser extension, meaning it’s something that you install from within your web browser. The only downside is that your browser must be Google Chrome, which isn’t really a downside since Chrome is by far the fastest browser around. You can get Chrome here for Windows or Mac.
The second tool is Skitch for iPad, which is based on the popular Mac app for quickly snapping and editing screenshots and photos. I’ve been using Skitch for years (virtually all of the images on this site went through Skitch at some point), so I’m delighted to see it on the iPad app store.
You can use Skitch to quickly annotate photos of student work or classroom displays. A picture says a thousand words, but often adding a few words or an arrow to a picture can say even more.
Skitch and Clearly are both free, and allow you to save their respective data to your Evernote account, reinforcing its position as your virtual brain in the cloud.
Evernote is a great all-purpose digital file cabinet, and we had no trouble discussing dozens of different ways we find it useful in our work. Here’s how I use it for walkthroughs. Thanks to Joe and William for joining me (several months ago, actually – I decided to run the No Office Day episode first) – they are great educators to connect with.
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I get a lot of questions about how I use my iPad for walkthroughs, so I thought I’d share my system. There’s a lot more to it that I will try to detail in a future video or webinar, but here’s a quick video on how to set up Evernote to record walkthrough notes.
Chuck Bell & Jessica Johnson discuss how they manage the teacher evaluation process.
Providing meaningful feedback and completing teacher evaluations represent a substantial portion of the work of school leaders. My guests this week shared their insights into managing the process, and described how they strive to provide instructional leadership through the process. Thanks to Jessica and Chuck for their time and willingness to share.
Jessica’s advice: Don’t put off the post-conference – the sooner you have the post-observation meeting, the more meaningful the feedback will be.
Chuck’s advice: Make it a priority every day. Don’t underestimate the importance of the leader’s presence in classrooms.
Links to resources we talked about:
Kim Marshall’s book: Rethinking Teacher Supervision & Evaluation
Thanks very much to the Utah Association of Elementary School Principals for inviting me to speak at their summer conference, which is still going on as I fly home. It was a pleasure to meet such nice people and talk about how we approach our work.
As promised, here are the materials from the keynote presentation.
First, the PowerPoint slides themselves:
High-Performance Leadership: Working Smarter with 21st-Century Tools (21.3 MB)
The slides themselves don’t contain very much information, by design (since most people don’t want to read full pages of text onscreen while someone is talking). For more detail, here are a few articles that cover the same topics:
The Essential iPad Guide for Principals (PDF) – $2.99 on the Kindle store (I will be happy to email this to conference attendees upon request at no charge.)
Other resources you may find helpful:
OmniFocus, the to-do list application that I mentioned
Remember the Milk, the web-based to-do app that I mentioned
Evernote, the searchable information-management app that I mentioned
NudgeMail.com, for postponing emails until you’re ready to see them
The Practical Principals Podcast – by Melinda Miller & Scott Elias
Frank Buck Consulting (great email newsletter)
Get Organized! Time Management for School Leaders, by Dr. Frank Buck
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen
Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, by Atul Gawande
Finally, I may have mentioned that I have a weekly newsletter that includes any new articles I post on my website. You can sign up here.
Thanks again for the invitation – I hope we can work together again in the future.
If you’ve been to one of my presentations, you know I’m a huge fan of Evernote, the omni-platform notetaking app that is my file cabinet for digital information.
Evernote just added a feature (which has been in SimpleNote for a while) that lets you share a note, either on the Evernote website (with an unguessable address) or via Twitter or Facebook.
As Scott said in a recent Practical Principals podcast, this feature is great for quickly sharing a document with others online, without having to email it or create a web page.
As an example, here’s the text of this post as an Evernote shared note.
What tools do you use to do your work? If you’re like me (and, say, the practical principals), you love finding and talking about new tools such as iPad apps, pens, notebooks, and the like.
The problem with tools, though, is that they often become a destination rather than a vehicle for getting to the destination. In other words, they become the focal point rather than a way to accomplish the work of leadership.
Every time you find a new tool and add it to your repertoire, you go through a period of inefficiency known as a learning curve or implementation dip. This may be worth it, if you’re switching to a tool that will enable you to be more effective, but it doesn’t make sense to spend all of your time in an endless series of learning curves when you can find a good tool and stick with it.
This is one reason I’ve stuck with Evernote for a very long time. It’s my repository for notes, emails I need to save, and any other form of information I want to have at my fingertips. There may be better tools for writing, notetaking, syncing with Scrivener (which I use on my Mac), or other specific purposes, but Evernote is familiar, effective, and versatile, and most importantly, I know how to use it, so I can spend my time working rather than learning yet another tool.
One reason I appreciate sites like Practical Principals and ByJohnChandler is that I get to hear about a large number of potentially great tools without having to try them all. I’ll let others try before I buy. I hope I can do the same for you when I review a tool.
Here’s to doing the work.