Managing Multiple Devices Makes Me Tired!

My school now has over 900 devices that have to be managed, maintained and handled. While there are “simple” ways to handle this, I find that using a database has saved me. I use FileMaker exclusively because it’s what I’ve always used. It’s powerful and provides me with so many options.

Keeping my own inventory allows me to make labels, reconcile inventory, and know where any one of those 900 devices are supposed to be. (No, they aren’t always where they started out!)

The end of the school year brings a fresh set of problems with so many devices. How long do you leave them in the classroom and still efficiently get them gathered up for storage? How many should just get covered and locked in classrooms? Since they need to be re-distributed in the fall, is it easier to just collect themmultiple devices and start fresh?

While every person will choose their own method, I like control. There, I said it. I like to know where they are. I like them in my “office” – it’s really a large closet, but I still call it home – where I can put my hands on them, organize them and know what I have.

Relabeling is so much easier with my database. Printing the ERD or equipment recycling sheets is simplified by just recreating the form that my county uses. Then I just save as a PDF and I’m done. Handwrite a form? No way! Efficiency is the key.

I’ve always been a list maker, so moving to the online version of a list helps me. To Do lists with Wunderlist, lists of inventory with FileMaker and Google Sheets with checklists of beginning and end of year responsibilities help keep my sanity. What little I have left. Multitasking keeps me busy!

How do you manage your devices? Do you have a method that is tried and true? I’d love your feedback. And I promise not to take control of your school’s devices. Really. Promise.

Developing a Growth Mindset

“I just can’t do it!” proclaims a second grader in my technology class. Everyone else in the class yells out “YET!” and keeps right on working. They encourage each other to not give up. There are many tasks that are frustrating for my “littles”. They often have the attention span of a flea and the same inability to sit still. While this is a generalization,

Used under a Creative Commons license

more often than not, my younger students give up easily. Instant gratification is the phrase of the day for many of these students. I daresay that it has become a part of the culture for many of us, little or not.


Changing our thinking to one of Growth Mindset is not always easy. I used to find myself saying, “You’re so smart!” when I should have been saying, “I can see you really worked hard on that.” Children that hear those around them seeming to get it when they don’t, begin to label themselves NOT SMART. My answer? You just can’t do it as well YET.

“But, they all got it right away and I can’t do it!” “Of course you can do it. You just can’t do it YET. Did you learn to walk at the same time as everyone else? Did you learn to talk at the same time as everyone else? No! We’re all different. With a little practice, you’ll get it too!” (By the way, the tears almost stopped at this point).

Technology can be frustrating for everyone. The teachers I work with often struggle the most because they think they should “get it” right away. Well, that just isn’t the case. Oh, and even though they seem to think I know everything, I make sure that they hear me say, “I don’t know how to do that YET, but I’ll see what I can find out.”

No one likes to fail. But, I tell my students that FAIL is my favorite word. Or more correctly, my favorite acronym. First Attempt In Learning = FAIL. I would give credit to whoever came up with this, but I don’t know where it came from. So, “Thank You” if it was you that invented this great acronym!

Safe failures that happen at school encourage our students to grow. The more they fail in our environment and get built up for trying, the less they will fail in the real world when it can become dangerous. Talk to your students about the need for failure. We all have small failures every day. People need strategies for handling those failures without it being a devastation to them.

Where can you FAIL today?

Are You Indispensable?

People sometimes tell me that they don’t know how they handled technology before I was hired. While I’m flattered that they need me, I wonder if I make them too dependent.

When I worked in business, upper management always reminded us that we should train our people to not need us. Wise words. 

I believe this applies to our students as well. Teaching independence and critical thinking  help others to grow and find their own voice. If we constantly spoon feed and protect them, we develop dependency and stunt their brain growth. 

Coaching teachers to grasp onto a new technology is much like teaching elementary school. I’m certainly not saying that we should treat adults like children, but I AM saying that we need to break down the steps for them. 

Learning a new app or tool is sometimes so stressful for an already over worked professional, that they appear to reject your teaching.  In fact, they are usually just completely “info-whelmed”. The know they are intelligent. They probably have earned multiple degrees, and they think they should “get it” right away. It stops them in their tracks when it seems beyond them to understand new technology.

So, my goal is to develop more independence in those that I coach and teach. 

While I’m not indispensable, I am grateful for being needed and wanted at a job I love. 

What is a “Connected Educator”?

I have certainly understood the term connected. I am certainly an educator. Being a connected educator takes many steps and facets to really complete. This blog post was a great way to fire up my Wednesday. The infographic is great for me. I love infographics! They really speak to the visual learner that I am.

I always thought that being “connected” was more of a negative term. If you were “connected” you knew people in high places. You might even have been a bit of a snob. Of course, today being connected takes on a whole new meaning.

How are you connected? Do some or many or all of the icons below look familiar to you? Some were new to me, and I feel as if I’m a fairly well-connected educator. So, I have some researching to do about apps like Trello and Slack. Have you used either of those? My quest to add to my curated digital toolbox continues. Thankfully.

When I stop learning, I’ll just wither up and fade away. Being a life-long learner is crucial to being an effective educator no matter what your role is.

Follow me on Twitter @barbvinal or LinkedIn or Facebook. Let’s get connected!

How do you stay current, relevant and up-to-date with the new technologies in education? What Connected Educators do Differently has answers for educators looking to start and cultivate a professional (or personal) learning network (PLN) to stay current and connected. Following are key takeaways from the book and from two other resources that go beyond […]

via 3 Takeaways from “What Connected Educators Do Differently” — Online Learning Insights

YouTube in the Classroom

I love Educational Technology and Mobile Learning! Every time I see the name in my inbox, I just know they will have come up with something awesome!

YouTubehands-589474_640.jpgHere is a great link: A Handy Chart Featuring YouTube Guidelines for Teachers

Oh, how I love PD in my PJs! (Or wherever I am). No longer do I have to wait for people to contact me for Professional Development, nor do I have to wait for someone to come to me. Now I can just go get the answers I need when I need them.


Presentation Overload

Is it possible to have too many slide sets in your Google Drive? I love the new Explore feature in Slides as it makes my slides look professionally done. But it just doesn’t play well with a Conference template. Darn. 

With several upcoming conferences, I was hoping to provide more visually appealing slides (just in case the content wasn’t as exciting to my audience as it is to me!) But, alas, I must rely on my long ago desktop publishing training for layout. If you’re under 40 you probably don’t know what I mean by that. Design techniques are about using white space well. It’s about using succinct wording and hooking the attendee. And I used to get paid to do what Explore now does for Slides. Times change. 

The preparation for NCDPI’s Home Base Symposium this week and NCTIES next week on two distinctly different topics, has kept me thinking. The ease of using G Suite in the cloud makes everything so much easier. 

I keep my G Drive well organized, but I have so much in my Drive that I have to search to find anything. Too many presentations? Maybe. But I’m honored to have so many different topics accepted at the local and state levels. 

Hopefully my session attendees will find a few nuggets of information from my presentations. And hopefully Google will always be there for the next Presentation in the overloaded folder. What happens if Google ever isn’t there?!? Not tonight…

Creating a Collaborative Student Experience

Teachers often ask me how many devices they are going to get. “Not all of my kids have a device. I need to increase the number of laptops in my room so that they each have their own.” While this sentiment is valid for student individual use, it doesn’t speak to the need for us to teach collaboration.

The model of 1 device for every 3 students lends itself to students working in a more collaborative manner. We already know that they can work alone and under direction. At least most of them can. What we need to cultivate is the team creative effort. This is what is needed most in the real world. Finding the ability to plan and work together is a much missing commodity in the workplace.

By Lucélia Ribeiro (Children at school) via Wikimedia Commons

Business owners often say, “I can teach skills. I can train someone to use our software system. What I can’t teach is teamwork and personal responsibility. They should know that before they get here.”

We encourage, even demand, that teachers work together in PLTs (personal learning networks) so that there is a common, shared vision. We should be obligated to foster the same in our students. Individual growth, of course, is important. But individual growth will develop within a collaborative team. And collective thinking is more powerful that one person doing it alone.

How can a teacher help? Develop team contracts. Have job assignments when working on a project. For example, one student is the director, one is the scribe, and one is the submitter. These are just a few ideas. Students may even come up with titles for themselves that you never thought of. Give them the power to make the safe decisions in a team environment. This encourages growth and helps establish a work ethic and responsibility.

And only provide one device per team. 

Does this mean we should never use 1:1 in the classroom? Of course not! But, using the collaborative approach, the technology dollars will go further and we develop skills that are necessary. A real win-win situation!