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Life hack your way to the finish line

By Team ISTE
May 12, 2015
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This is the time a year when everything seems to speed up as educators around the world race to the finish line. We recently shared some of our favorite tips and tricks to improve everyday life for educators and followed up with more. The posts were so popular, we’ve come up with five additional ideas to ease your way to the final bell:

1. Broaden your app-titude. It’s easy to fall into a rut of limiting apps to coupon retrieval and games. Instead, look (and use!) five apps a week that address an area of your life you haven’t yet automated. May we suggest:

  • Text replacement software like Activewords to reduce time spent on repetitive tasks like launching programs, websites, Evernote notes and more.
  • Document-on-the-go programs (think CloudOn) that let you use and share Word, Excel and PowerpPoint via your smartphone or tablet.
  • Organizational tools like Evernote, Feedly, Pocket and LastPass, a password storage timesaver. Many teachers love EduClipper as the Pinterest of education, where they can share and interact with lesson ideas and other resources.
  • Social media shortcuts, such as Hootsuite and Buffer, to share links across various social sites.

2. Practice what really makes you happy. It’s probably not what you think. Scientists have divided the road to happiness into four steps:

  • Express gratitude.
  • Add exercise and/or play to your day.
  • Share inspiring moments.
  • Incorporate novelty, a.k.a. shake up your day with something spontaneous, fun and different.

In the end, these activities send blood sugar to the brain’s prefrontal cortex to fuel the important work of creating, problem solving, being a human. Otherwise, stress sends that fuel to more rote needs like muscle movement and heartbeats.

3. Find the words. Frustrated when you can’t talk face-to-face with a student? Words aren’t getting your message across? Don’t let that harsh your mellow. Free screen-sharing app ScreenChomp for iPad helps educators doodle and draw the points they want to make.

4. Deck the walls. Color is the key, but paint it ain’t. Instead, cover the walls with (cheap) plastic tablecloths to create fun bulletin boards, or display artwork via double-sided tape or hot glue applied to painter’s tape so it doesn’t ruin the drywall.

5. No budget for classroom tech? Hand students their own whiteboards — that is, a piece of melanine or shower board panels from a hardware store instead.

Looking for other ideas, tools and apps to shake up your classroom? Don’t miss Tammy Worcester’s presentation Tammy’s Favorite Tips, Tricks and Tools at ISTE 2015. Register now.