Guest post by Nicole Dissinger
We learn so much during our years in school. We learn a variety of concepts from mathematics to writing, visual art, and science. When we think back on all that learning, how much of that has transferred to our everyday lives?
As a teacher I often think, what skills are my students taking with them into their daily lives? Do they use those communication skills we practiced when they are having an issue on the playground? Will they be able to transfer and apply their self-management skills between the science activity into their independent math activities?
Over my years of teaching, I’ve developed a clear understanding of the importance of teaching skills. I’ve learned that providing students opportunities to learn and practice skills is more valuable than just teaching them content. Communication, thinking, self-management, social, and research are some of the skills that students wil need tol use when when thinking critically and making decisions in order to solve problems.
A common belief arises from both my experience as a teacher and from experiences of other teachers around the world: these skills are essential in students becoming independent and responsible learners. So how do we shift our teaching practice to reflect our beliefs?
What do we want our students to be able to do? Simply understand place value and construct a proper sentence? Sure these are important skills, but these aren’t skills that apply to all aspects of their lives. Let’s think bigger. Do we believe that clear communication is important? Do we value clarity in expectations? Do we value using our time and space efficiently? Do we believe that relationships are a priority? If our answers are yes, we need to teach skills that translate from school life to daily life. These values guide the learning and classroom environment and teachers who model these values will see them reflected in their students.
Do you have your favorite and most used sites saved in your Google search history, on a sheet, or bookmarked on your browser? Me too.
Have you tried to use a OneTab filter system so it looks like there’s only one browser open, but then found your baby (laptop) is running on high because those tabs are still actually running? Me too.
What I didn’t realize was that I could have all my most visited sites on my one browser, in plain site, and simplify how my bookmark looks, making it easier to use.
As you know, a bookmark bar isn’t the bar you go to to read books and drink a cocktail. It a place our eyes always land when we live in the land of computer work.
I can’t take credit for this trick. I did read it in someone’s tech tip blog a few months ago and partially implemented it right after I read it, and then tightened it up in the last couple of weeks.
Here’s what I’ve done to simplify what’s on my screen, yet give me the comfort of knowing it’s still there.
As much as I love words, they cluttered up my bookmark bar. We use symbols for a reason, and all the sites I use have recognizable symbols that make it easy to know which site are listed in my bookmark bar.
That’s it. It’s an easy to implement system. And one you can tecah your family and students.
My "New" Approach
A new approach can look a lot of things. It depends on what you need, what your vision is, or how you want to feel. For me, it looks like a google sheet.
Over this last 12-14 months I’ve made some some attempts to get a handle workflows and projects that have now come to life. I started tracking a few things last spring, and was impressed with myself for sticking by the sheet systems, despite the mess it became by the end of the year.
What I decided to do, as always, was lean into my close network. They are awesome to help jog memories of things we’ve chatted about before, but maybe I wasn’t quite ready to dig into. They amazing at sharing ideas, and progress with their use over time. After having a look at some of our emails and texts, I began to do some synthesizing and I came up with what I think will be a sheet system that I can stick with.
Here are my two main sheets (with a potential third on the horizon), their tab names, and what’s inside:
Setting these simple trackers up and using them right away, every day, has been helping me keep my thinking organized and ideas in one spot. Like any new habit, it’s taking me some practice and patience to stick to the plan, but I know that because I value flexibility in systems, I can always tweak what needs tweaking. Can’t wait to get this all set up in my reMarkable 2…
Each year, January 1 rolls around, and I know that I will be seeing all these "New Year, New Me" ads and articles popping up. I look at them and may take a peek at what they are about, but I already know I am not making resolutions - again. Making resolutions is a very personal choice that needs to suit you, your lifestyle, and the place you are in at that moment in time.
I do like the feel of a fresh start, however, like a new set of Mr. Sketch smelly markers at the start of a new school year.
This year I evaluated a few of my systems and a few more of my “systems”, to determine where I needed to make some tweaks. I strongly believe in making changes when something is not efficient or valuable. This year, in the first week of 2022, I decided to make two significant tweaks. Well - one was a tweak and the other is a full system remodel.
The first change I made and has already proven to be successful is how I use my phone. No surprise that all my apps live in labeled folders. I knew I needed to do some deleting of unused apps and I also needed to figure out a more efficient way to sort the apps I check most frequently. So on my home screen, I created a folder called "Daily App Check". In that folder I have the 11 apps I check every day. I also put them in order of importance, so when I open that folder, I check my email first, then Voxer messages, and so on, and complete an app sweep in just a few minutes. After a couple hours of working, I will do another app sweep to check messages and socials again. Later in the day, I am not as mindful about the time spent app sweeping because I know I efficiently used my time during the day.
The second change I had to tackle was much larger of a brain tickle. I needed to choose how to track my writing. Essentially I needed to streamline a few of my thoughts and documents to get all bits in one place. Thank you Monica, for helping me out with that.
We can make changes any time we want, and I am happy with the ones I made this week. I hope the ones you have made have been good choices for you so far.