If we don’t tell our story, someone else will.

Tell Our Story

Our school has a story that goes way beyond our history. We have a story with pages written every single day, and depending on who’s telling the story, the story could be a good one or could be one we don’t want shared. Despite the accuracies or inaccuracies in the details, a story of our school is told every day by our students, their parents, our employees, our alumni, and anyone else who’s ever even heard of us.

It’s imperative that we tell our story (and tell it often) if you we want the story to be accurate. It’s one reason posting often on Twitter and Facebook has been a focus of ours this year. We want to tell our story and share all of the great things that are happening at our school. This past week has been great and I’ve tried to share those great things on Twitter. At the end of each week, I’ve been using Storify to share the Mustang Mountain Tweets of the Week (see last week’s here).

But telling our story goes way beyond social media and our web page. We are the greatest ambassadors of our school and in many of our interactions outside of school we tell a little of the our story. Here are four things to keep in mind to help us tell a great story.

1. Always be positive. Everything isn’t perfect at our school, but that doesn’t mean we should broadcast the negative stuff! It’s important for us watch our words, being certain that what we’re saying always paints our students, our faculty, our administration, and our school as a whole in a positive light. People are listening.

2. Share our students’ accomplishments. When students do great things, we need to brag on them. We have so many ways to share those successes- Twitter, our webpage, Facebook, etc. Be on the lookout for outstanding work and share it.

3. Look for awesome because you’ll find what you are looking for. (I probably just lost some of you because now you’re humming U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”) If you’re looking for things to complain about it, you’ll find plenty. However, if you look for the awesome things about our school, you’ll find plenty of those as well. Look for awesome.

4. When in doubt, over-communicate. Let parents know what’s going on at school. If students are working on projects in class, they may not have many grades posted online. Share that with parents so they will be in the loop and will tell a story of all the great things going in the classroom. If not, the story will be, “They don’t do much in class because there aren’t many grades.”

If you want some more insight into the importance of sharing your school’s story, check out Ben Gilpin’s latest blog post that he shared with his faculty. I promise he didn’t copy from me nor did I copy from him!
What’s the story you want people to tell about your school? Be sure that’s the story you’re telling often.

Evernote Use #26- Going Paperless #50EduEvernote

Two years ago, I got rid of my teacher desk, and last year when I moved into my office, the first thing I did was ask for the giant desk and filing cabinets to be removed. I knew myself. If I had places to put things (like in desk drawers or filing cabinets), things would pile up and my work space would be cluttered.

In any given day, I have several papers that come my way:

leave request forms

absentee reports

discipline notices

field trip requests

transportation itineraries

sub paperwork

meeting agendas

professional development documentation

Without an organization system in place, it would be really easy to be disorganized and my office would certainly be a disaster. However, my office looks the same today as it did the first day of school, and I love walking into it every day.

My paperless office system is pretty simple and all it takes is a scanner and an Evernote account:

1. If I get a paper that I need to keep, I scan it with my Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner and save it as a PDF.

2. When I scan the note, it is saved directly to Evernote.

3. I put the note in a specific notebook (depending on the document) and tag it accordingly.

4. I then add reminders if needed. For instance, for leave request forms, I set a reminder for two days prior to the absence to make sure we have a substitute assigned to cover the class.

That’s it!

Having a paperless office is very liberating for me and I feel more creative when I’m organized. Whenever I walk in, my office is neat and clean, and I’m not instantly defeated by piles of things I need to do.

If your office or classroom isn’t as neat and organized as you’d like, consider reducing your piles of paper with Evernote. It works for me!

Evernote Use #25- Documenting Classroom Observations #50EduEvernote

When I observe a classroom, I use Evernote to document my observations– both for me and for the teacher. Here is my documentation system I’ve been working for an informal/min-observation:

1. Before entering a classroom, I open a new note Evernote on my phone.

2. As I am observing the lesson, with the new Evernote note open, I try to snap a picture of what’s going on in class, something written on the board, or a classroom display. Other than snapping a picture or two, I just watch and listen rather than type notes– that’s for later. However, I will type something quickly to post on Twitter.

3. Once I’m finished observing, I step into the hallway and type a few notes, questions I have, or a reminder for me. (Since I’m usually walking in the hallway, I tap the microphone on my keyboard and speak my notes.)

4. Following Kim Marshall’s method of observation, conversation, and documentation (click here to learn more), I try to have a conversation with the teacher later that day or the next. (Note:  I’m still working on this. It’s harder than it sounds!)

5. After I have a conversation with the teacher, I go back to the Evernote note I started in Step 1, and I type my observation and ideas from the conversation. I save the note in my “2013-2014 Teacher Observations” notebook and I tag the note with the teacher’s last name.

6. When I’m finished, I email the observation note to the teacher.

Informal Observation Documentation

I’m still learning how to do this whole admin thing, but I’ve found that this system works– I just need to use it more consistently. I’ve found that Including a picture in the observation is great for documentation, and tagging the notes with the teacher’s last name is great because I can do a quick search to pull up all of my observations for each teacher.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas on how you could use Evernote for documentation. Don’t forget about the audio recording capabilities in a note. I’ve used that for some observations and found it helpful.

There isn’t one right way to use Evernote for documenting observations. How do you use Evernote to documentation observations? Share below.