New year, new beginning.
This is the general consensus for every teacher returning after a long summer of much needed recharging. A fresh new outlook is always a positive way to begin a school year, ensuring every troublesome student gains a clean slate, and every burdened teacher can branch out and attempt something new. Forget January, August is the month for resolutions!
Yet with all good intentions comes concern. As the new school year looms, planning, preparation, organization, and management are the main focus of most teachers. After a long summer, the last thing you want to worry about are lesson plans, subject plans, yearly plans, seating plans… the list goes on.
Reasserting yourself as the most organized teacher there ever was is a great resolution, alas one that many of us have failed to achieve. While technology can help teachers to get organized, there is often too much to choose from and too little time to upskill. Fishtree offers an easy solution that can make your super-teacher resolution a reality in a few simple steps. Here’s how:
1. Lesson Planning
Planning has to be every teacher’s pet peeve. Yes, we stand by the mantra “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”, but the time, effort and organization that planning demands is often too much to bear. Fishtree’s lesson planner is as simple and efficient as they come. Using the system, I can create engaging lessons quickly and easily. Resources include everything from text to video to podcast which can be sourced easily based on grade or difficulty, and are automatically aligned to my objective. Each lesson is then automatically stored for me to use and reuse at will. Creating my subject and yearly plan has never been so easy!
Every year, I tell myself I’m going to be uber-organized this time around and manage everything from daily lessons to end of term tests without drowning in subjects and grades. Needless to say, every year I quickly revert back to my old ways once the scale of this task has been assessed. Using technology for managing lessons, classes, and students instantly saves you time and stress. Fishtree provides a management platform that allows you to log your students in from day one, and go from there. Student activity and assessment is then monitored and stored automatically without you having to worry about keeping track. Whatsmore, the system is even available on mobile devices so I’m provided with unlimited access. With all your content, classes and students stored in one place, uber-organization is finally a possibility!
3. Tech Integration
Summer is the perfect time to indulge in the possibilities of technology integration in the classroom. Testing out all the different tools and apps on offer, it’s easy to get carried away and want to do it all at once. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be a computer whizz to successfully integrate technology. Using Fishtree’s easy-to-use platform, making the transition to tech is simple and straight-forward. With Fishtree, I can include video, real-time and social media in the classroom without moving from the one site. It offers everything you could possibly need to integrate technology successfully, and it’s as easy as logging in!
We’re all aware of the importance of differentiation nowadays. As teachers, we’re continually expected to provide differentiated activities and assessments. When you imagine a class of thirty students who all learn differently and at different paces, this process doesn’t seem so easy. I used to ensure I kept on top of my differentiating duties by providing different worksheets and tasks for certain students in every class. But the planning and preparation, not to mention the grading, of this process often meant I just didn’t have the time to differentiate as much as I would have liked.
When I tried Fishtree initially, I wasn’t sure what was meant by adaptive and personalized learning. In teaching terms, we’re basically talking about differentiation made easy. By logging each of my students into the system, different resources and assessments are automatically generated, according to a student’s specific needs and abilities. All I have to do is view the assessments once completed and interact with students based on assignments when needed. Once each differentiated assignment is complete, Fishtree then either grades it for me, or allows me to do so, adding my own feedback where necessary. The system saves a teacher so much time while ensuring every single student receives the education they deserve. It really is next generation learning!
5. Progress and Performance
Swamped in test scores… This is not the way we want to track student performance and progress, but all too often this is the result of teachers desperately trying to manage everything manually. Realistically, we want to have every test score and continuous assessment grade saved automatically, with progress and performance mapped out for us clearly and visually at the end of each term… Is that too much to ask? Not with Fishtree.
Using Fishtree’s platform, every single lesson, activity, and assessment completed by each student is saved automatically. Progress and performance is then accessible through clear, informative graphs and charts. I can select a specific student for more detailed information and even remediate students falling behind, with one click. I can see clearly how every single student and class is doing against every standard, and whether a student is using my own resources or has generated personalized content. I can then choose to help some or all students with individual support based on the interactive grade book fishtree gives me. Never again will I have to worry about tracking performance accurately and clearly, meaning every single student receives an equal footing.
Classroom observations, PTA meetings and performance evaluations suddenly seem a doddle as Fishtree ensures I remain on top of every administrative duty known to educators. Without having to worry about planning, organizing and managing, my duties seem a lot less daunting. With all of that taken care of, my time and energy is freed up to focus on student engagement and achievement… not to mention my own mental health! A new school year doesn’t have to mean planning overload, every teacher deserves a summer break to rejuvenate, and using a system like this, you can ease yourself back into the classroom without stressing yourself to the max. But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself and take on the new school year with a bang!
About the author:
Lorna Keane is a teacher of French, English and ESL. She specializes in language teaching and has taught in second and third-level institutions in several countries. She holds a B.A in languages and cultural studies and an M.A in French literature, theory and visual culture. Subscribe to her blog or follow her on Twitter.