Sunday, August 27, 2017

Having Trouble Organizing Your Google Drive? Take Charge with These Tips

Managing documents in your Google Drive account can be problematic, especially if your district and your staff use Google Docs, Google Slides, or Google Sheets a great deal. What do so that you can access those documents you need to use the most? How can you organize those documents that are shared with you continuously? I think I have found a system that works, at least for me.

Since the premise of Google Drive is more collaborative that individual, that means you have to work with a product with this in mind, and carefully organize it to meet your individual needs. Speaking with others, the most common approach is create a series of folders to organize your documents, but if you use too many folders, then the problem of remembering which folder your put that inventory document or that course syllabus becomes enormous. Keeping folders to a minimum is a must. So, I designed my system with five folders that capture every single document I need ready access to. Here's those five folders and what I place in them.

Working Docs: I place any ongoing Google Doc that relates to a current project I am undertaking. It might be a presentation I am developing and will be using in staff development in the near future. It might be a letter to parent that I am writing, or a new schedule I am developing for my school in the coming weeks. The general rule here? These are documents under construction that I will be getting back to short-term.

To-Do Items: This folder is for those documents that require action in the future. It might be a request for information or a form that needs to be completed in the future. If someone shares a Google Doc with me requiring future action, I make a copy of it and place it here. These are all documents that correspond to a "To-Do" Item on my Google Keep To-Do List. (I'll do a blog post shortly that shows how I use this Google App.) If I start working on a doc in this folder and not finish, I move it to my Working Docs folder.

Templates: This is one of my favorite folders. I have begun to make Templates for those docs that I find myself recreating often, such as my Staff Memo or my Parent Newsletter. I simply make a copy of the template in my Working Docs folder when I am working on these items. Over time, I will develop a complete library of personalize templates for use on any occasion.

Current School Documents: In this folder I place those documents that are mostly complete but that I find myself referring to quite often. For example, I have my school master schedule, daily class schedule, bell schedule, and many other documents that I will most likely refer to at least once a day or week. The central office often asks for a copy of these documents. I don't have to search for them.

Archive: This is the folder of everything else. All documents end up here when I am no longer working on them or they are no longer needed. Because this is fully searchable, as is all of Google Drive, I can locate items here through the search function. The key here is: make sure your documents have unique names.

In addition to these folders, I have also set up a Team Drive for my school. In this folder, I and my staff can place most used documents and those documents under construction that are totally collaborative.

So far, I've found few problems with this system. If someone shares a Google Doc with me, I immediately make a copy of it, and file it in one of these folders.

Google Drive Folders and Team Drives

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Should Children Play Football? Is It Safe? No, It Is Not

"Wherever I go," writes Dr. Bennet Olmalu in his new book, Truth Doesn't Have a Side, "people ask me one question more than any other: 'Dr. Omalu, is it safe for my child to play football?' The answer is simple. 'No it is not."

With those words, the physician who discovered that NFL players suffer and have died from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, makes it clear that no matter what coaches may say. No matter what helmet manufacturers or football safety equipment designers say, playing football is not safe. Olmalu makes it clear that the human head is not designed to absorb the blows that often occur during the game of football. He write that animals like woodpeckers have built-in shock absorbers to protect their brains from impact forces, but humans do not.

In addition to not having brains capable of absorbing the impact of hits, he also points out that the football helmet is not designed to help. It protects the skins from cuts and perhaps the fracturing of the skull, but it does nothing to help with the jarring of the brain inside the skull. Add the fact that the brain doesn't have the ability to repair itself like other bodily organs, there is a problem with any activity that ,damages the brain.

No one asked me if I would again play football as I did in high school many years ago. Nor did anyone ask me if I could once again coach high school or middle school football as I once did. I'll answer anyway: "No, to both questions."

If I could replay my life again, I would not play football when I was high school, because I would have avoided that knee injury that ended my play then and has prevented me from being as active as an adult as I've wanted to. It has resulted in two surgeries and years of pain as well.

As for the coaching? I'm fairly sure I could not in good conscience, with all the increasing scientific evidence, enthusiastically encourage our youth to strap up and use their bodies as missiles either. As Dr. Omalu points out so clearly, humans aren't made for that. Of course, one could argue that "Humans weren't made for flying either." True...that's why I don't do that often ether.

The truth is, and I think Dr. Omalu makes this point very well: Adults choosing to play football with all its risks is one thing. They are mature enough to weigh the risks and decide for themselves. Children? Well, there's a reason why they're prevented to making decisions about risky behavior. As a parent, as a teacher, as a coach, and as a principal, we have children in our families and in our schools playing football. Let's just make sure these little ones teenagers aren't playing and taking the risks for us so that we can enjoy the "glory" of football. Personally, that's one sacrifice I can't make.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Advice to New Teachers 2017: Teaching as Stepping Stone and Not Career

As a 28 year experienced educator my advice for those entering the profession this year is simple. There was a time when teachers could expect that teaching would be a career. You could expect to enter a profession that valued your work and that would do everything it could to keep you satisfied and committed to teaching in the long term. Times have changed drastically.

The current system values educators who are short-timers. It treasures those who will use teaching as a stepping stone to other endeavors. It does not want educators who are dedicated and committed to a life of educating the young. It simply wants educators who want to make short-term gains and move on.

To the new teachers who begin their careers this year, my advice is simple. Take advantage of a system that simply wants to get as much productivity out of you in the short-term as possible. You, in turn, should get as much short-term gain out of your experience as possible. Business has taught the educational establishment this very well. When legislators at the state level gut benefits and tinker with pay as has been done in North Carolina, education becomes a stepping stone not a career.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad