Sep 13, 2010

Saving Time & Being a Better Teacher - What Does it for You?

Today I read a fun post on the LifeHacker site about "What's the one thing on your desk, in your office, or around your workplace that saves time or makes work more bearable?"  My vote was for my iPod and Pandora (free streaming music).  I love listening to music when I'm not teaching.  It definitely makes the paperwork game easier.  Anyway, this got me to thinking.....what is it at school, in rehearsal or my daily teaching that saves time and/or helps me be a better teacher?  Well, this is a tough decision.  Last year I would have voted for the iPhone and all the great apps like Evernote, Tempo and iProRecorder that I used quite frequently in my teaching (see my post earlier this year).  However, this year Google Docs wins!

I work in a team-teaching environment with two great colleagues.  Collaboration is very important because we all teach band lessons to 6th-8th grade students, in addition to our rehearsals.  We are also planning and collaborating on a presentation at the National Middle School Association Conference in Baltimore, MD this November.  Google Docs has allowed us to work on the same documents both at home and at work at the same time.  We keep our lesson schedules, daily grades and playing assessments all on Google Docs.  Because we have laptops, data entry takes place during the lessons/rehearsals.  We seem to use the spreadsheet feature the most and it has a lot of the same features Excel has.  Documents can be uploaded from Excel and downloaded to Excel, as well as creating a link to view as a web page.  In the spreadsheet, we can even write comments pertaining to a student's playing assessment and progress.  This allows the next teacher to read those comments at the student's next lesson.  Awesome!  If you haven't tried Google Docs yet, check it out. It's free and all you need is a Google account.  We choose to use it because communication, efficiency, and organization is key in our work environment. 

Now it's your turn to share.  What is the one thing at school, in rehearsal or your daily teaching that saves time and/or helps you be a better teacher?  Let share it on this Google spreadsheet or leave a comment below. 

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