Teachers these days are up to their ears in work that must be accomplished each day. In addition to time spent in front of students, teachers spend hours writing lesson plans and learning objectives, creating and grading tests and assignments, as well as attending meetings, professional development seminars, and courses for keeping up with certification. Any tools that can help a teacher manage time and get tasks done in a timely manner are hugely beneficial. Below are some of the best ways for teachers to become more productive with technology tools.
RescueTime is an online time tracking and management program for any busy person who wants to get more done with their time. When entering grades into online grade books, it is too easy to flip over to email or Facebook and lose track of time. RescueTime can block those distractions to make it easier for you to stay focused. It also runs timers in the background to track how much time you spend on different applications. You can check these statistics to see where you are losing time with unproductive activities. RescueTime also helps you track your time off of the computer and sends you alerts to get you refocused on your work tasks.
2. Google Docs
If you are a high school English teacher, you know how much grading and commenting on papers can suck time out of your day. It’s easy to get distracted, to let your mind wander, and to take longer doing it than you meant to. With Google Docs, you can streamline the process and save paper. Google Docs is a free service that allows you to upload documents, edit them, and share with others. Your students need not print their papers to turn in; they can simply upload and share with you. Editing the papers and inserting your comments is much faster when done electronically. This allows you to quickly read and grade first, second, and final drafts of student papers and to give your students instant access to your comments for revisions.
Being organized is one of many aspects of a great teacher. If organization is not your strength, Springpad can help. It is more than just a high tech to-do list generator. The features on this organizing tool are numerous and include storage of documents, to-do lists, notes with images and links, and notebooks to which you can attach notes, files, and lists. The notebooks you create on Springpad can be private or shared with other teachers.
4. Virtual Assistant
If you think a second pair of hands could help you be more productive in your time out of class, you can hire a set. The International Virtual Assistants Association can help you find a professional to complete tasks for you remotely. Virtual assistants are skilled in various ways. You should be able to find one to create or polish and edit your Powerpoint slides for lectures, input data into grading software, and search for resources and video clips for the classroom. Your VA should also be able to help you with research if you are working on an advanced degree while teaching.
Wunderlist is an easy-to-use and free task manager that can help teachers and other professionals make and organize lists. You can use it on your computer, tablet, and phone at no cost, a great feature for teachers. Wunderlist is very easy to use and you can take your lists with you everywhere you go so that you are working smarter, not harder. If you are co-teaching, you can share related lists with each other. You can even email tasks to your list. The subject of the email matches the task to the appropriate list.
Mary Ellen Ellis is a science teacher and writer for Teacher Certification Degrees, a career resource for individuals interested in pursuing a career in education.
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