Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to Clean Up Your Virtual Clutter Part 1

When we think about cleaning up or organizing we think about our homes or our classrooms. 
But have you thought about organizing your virtual spaces? 
Virtual clutter can cause as much stress and unrest as physical clutter. 
Especially for teachers since we rely so heavily on technology.  
As a new Library Media Specialist I am spending a lot of time helping teachers with their tech needs.  It's been very interesting to me to see their computer desktops smack full of files and email icons with scores of emails that are just sitting there.  I have to be honest-it gives me heart palpitations LOL.
This series was birthed by those palpitations!
One of the biggest issues that teachers encounter is forgotten passwords.
And it's no wonder, with email accounts, online curriculums, students logins, accelerated reader, online gradebooks, Google docs, and so much more!

Here's how I organize my passwords for school and home to prevent forgotten passwords:
I use Evernote.  If you're not familiar with Evernote, click the picture below to learn more about it and sign up for the free account.  Then, put the Evernote app on your iPad and iPhone so you can access your info from anywhere in the cloud.

Here's how to create a note that will encrypt your passwords to keep them safe.
1.  In Evernote, create a new note.

2.  Type in your passwords and login info.
I organize mine like this: (these are fake logins :))

3.  Now it's time to encrypt.  This feature allows only someone with the paraphrase you've chosen to decrypt the info.
Highlight the selected text then under edit click "encrypt selected text" (you only have to do this for the initial set up)

4.  This "note encryption box" appears for you to type in your secret paraphrase.  Whatever you pick, use a code that YOU WON'T FORGET-and that isn't obvious to the world.  DO NOT click the box that says "remember paraphrase until I quit Evernote."  This means the words will stay exposed until you close out of Evernote.  Which maybe bad news if you leave the app open or if you leave Evernote open on your desktop.

5.  Once you click o.k. you'll see a little rectangle.  To open and view your passwords you click the rectangle and a box pops up asking you to put in your encryption paraphrase.  

I suggest that you create a "HOME-password" note and a "SCHOOL-password" note to be just a little more organized.  

May you never forget another password!  
In Part 2, we'll fix your overflowing email inbox!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Use Your Inside Voice

I love a new school year for many reasons.  
One of the best things about a new year is the fresh start.  
As a teacher I get a fresh start and the little guys in my class get a fresh start as well.

Do you have habits as a teacher that you'd like to change or overcome?  
Then, this new school year is your chance!  One of the habits that seems to be a struggle for many teachers is the habit of raising their voice.  Our students can frustrate us over and over.  180 days is a lot of days to be stretched, tried, and pulled by our students.  Sometimes the 10th time of repeating ourselves is all we can take.  And understandably so.  
While I've never been a "yeller" in my classroom,  when my children were younger I struggled with raising my voice in my moments of frustration at home.  
Here's how I conquered that nasty habit and how I transferred the same principles to speak more graciously to my students in my classroom- even in moments of super frustration.

1.   Memorize this verse.  
My main weapon against this bad habit is Proverbs 15:1 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."  What's interesting about this verse is I found that it wasn't about turning away the anger of the child, but turning away MY anger.  When I used a soft answer, MY frustration level began to diminish.  I say this verse immediately to myself when I begin to feel frustrated.

2.  Whisper.
When I feel myself wanting to raise my voice, I slowly whisper the next sentence or direction.  Lowering my voice immediately calms me and the child.

3.  Choose your words carefully.
A "soft" answer isn't just referring to the noise level-but I believe it's also referring to the our choice of words.  We should only use words and tones with our students that we would want someone else to use with our own children.  Sarcasm does not have a place in our classrooms-no matter the age of the child.

I urge you to try this at school and at home.  And just like a good teacher will tell you, practice, practice, practice, because practice makes progress.

Happy New {School} Year!