Top apps and resources for busy administrators

administrators-mobile-appsOn any given day, school administrators must juggle a variety of responsibilities, support staff, and respond to last-minute issues or emergencies. In an effort to empower busy school administrators and in celebration of Connected Educator Month, education leaders compiled a list of their favorite apps and social media tools to help them manage increasingly busy days at school.

During an information-packed webinar that was part of Connected Educator Month, South Park Elementary School (Pa.) Principal Rob Furman offered a number of apps and social media resources that can help busy school administrators juggle eMail, tasks, teacher needs, and other deadlines.

“We all know this is a 24/7 job,” he said. “Anything we can do to save a few minutes [is beneficial].”

Furman reviewed some of his favorite apps that he said can help administrators sift through eMails, staff requests, situations that demand immediate attention, and more.

(Next page: Furman’s favorite apps for administrators)

Evernote: Furman described Evernote, which is popular in the ed-tech world, as one of the best note-taking apps around. The app saves and archives information and pushes that information to all synced devices. In his school, Furman uses Evernote during classroom observations. Administrators who don’t have the ability to fill out and send teacher observation notes on the spot can use Evernote to take notes on the fly and upload those notes to their tablets, laptops, or other devices. Furman follows this process, he said, and when he is finished taking notes with Evernote, he can access those notes on his office computer, copy and paste them onto a district observation form, and complete the observation process.

TeamViewer: This app makes technical support a breeze for administrators, Furman said. Users enter a password and can remotely access computers and servers for trouble-shooting, collaboration, and more. Often, Furman said, it takes more time to walk to a teacher’s computer than it does to actually fix the problem. Remote access saves administrators time, especially if their school has multiple buildings or if they are trouble-shooting on the district level. If TeamViewer has access to a home computer with special software, administrators can access their home computers from school computers and can still use that special software even if it is not installed on the school computer.

HassleMe: While simple in concept and design, Furman said administrators could benefit from this reminder tool. Administrators can set a reminder for anything they wish, and the tool will send reminder eMails on a rough schedule, so that users never quite know exactly when an eMail is coming—this helps make the reminders more effective. School administrators might use the tool to remind them to review teachers’ lesson plans, check in with curriculum teams, or schedule a periodic meeting.

HitMeLater.com: This eMail tool is described as a “snooze button” for your inbox. Adminstrators have the option to forward messages to this eMail service when they need to respond, but have more pressing matters to attend to. Users simply choose a number from 1-24, corresponding to the number of hours they wish to pass before the eMail pops up in their inbox, to @hitmelater.com. For instance, 12@hitmelater.com means that the forwarded eMail will reappear in 12 hours. This service helps administrators who need to respond to all of their eMail, but who might need to delay those responses due to deadlines, projects, or emergencies.

Smilebox: This tool and app, from Hallmark, is greeting card-based. But Furman said administrators may find it a valuable resource for staff encouragement and morale. Furman uses it for staff anniversaries, birthdays, and motivational cards. It’s an easy way to give school staff recognition and it saves school dollars that might otherwise be spent on cards and postage.

OpenEd.io: Using this free site, administrators can search for open educational resources by grade level, keyword, or standard. “District administrators would love it,” Furman said, because the tool has resources for grades K-12 and lets administrators quickly select resources to pass on to curriculum directors and teachers.

PolicyTool for Social Media: While not a substitute for legal advice, this tool helps administrators create unofficial policies for social media. Furman said it’s a great starting point for administrators who want to construct a social media policy before sending the policy off to a district legal adviser for review.

AuthorStream: AuthorStream offers administrators a way to share PowerPoint presentations online. Many administrators opt to do this for official district procedures and policies on confidentiality, sexual harassment, and so forth—teachers and administrators need to review the material, but they also want to use valuable classroom time to their advantage before students return to school. Furman created a PowerPoint for each district policy and gave teachers a deadline to formally acknowledge that they viewed and understood, or viewed and received clarification on, school and district policies. It saves professional development time, Furman added. Plus, giving teachers access to materials this way prevents school and district eMail servers from crashing under the strain of large files full of videos and graphics.

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