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Technology News FALL 2020 Survival Guide Edition

This edition of my newsletter is focused on 3 tips that may help you continue to move forward in these stormy times. I will be brief, but hopefully you can take some things away from this to help you manage the world you are living in right now. Feel free to skim through it or save it for a later date.

1. Just Breathe.

I know that this is much easier said than done. As someone who struggles with anxiety myself, I have been looking for the all the calming and positive things I can find around me. For one, I have utilized Apps and Podcasts to help me stay centered. (More on that later.)

I have also started making a positivity journal. I try to think about the positives that have been peeking through because of the pandemic. Believe me, I could seriously get lost down the tunnel of despair if I had a negativity journal, but I really try hard to find the things that just would not be happening now, without this situation. Keep in mind, some days are a lot harder than others.

Here are some of mine:

1. I have seen teachers who are working so hard for their students, whether they be in the classrooms or remote. You have been pushed outside your comfort zones completely, asked to do the unthinkable, and yet here you are working hard each day for the community. Believe it or not, at the end of the day, you are all making a monumental impact for our kids. I am sure many things aren't as perfect as you want them to be, and at times I bet you think that you are failing. You aren't. You are present, kids are learning, and that is what matters. This is not the year to strive for that Golden Apple Award mentality, or to be the one who uses the most technology. We need to take it one day at a time, one week at a time, and one quarter at a time. Reflection is a huge key to how we move forward after each day. I have seen many of you fear technology in the past and are now using it every single day. This isn't the ideal way to plan a technology integration initiative, but here we are, making it work. When the elementary devices get here, ICSD will be one-to-one PreK-12 . That is scary and so cool all wrapped up into one for me.

2. Our IT team is closer than ever and working together to solve the many, many issues and needs that have come up. Incident IQ has made this process so much better for us. I hope it has helped you too!

3. Essential workers are awesome. I have a renewed appreciation for helpful and brave people, and for those who still answer the call to make our world work outside the remote environment.

4. I have learned even more about Blended and Flipped learning because I am either putting it into practice myself, or I am helping those that are putting it into practice. Believe it or not, you are putting that into practice too. You are designing online activities, Zooming with students, and making instructional videos, which are the building blocks for a solid blended environment.

5. After being home for so long, and also traveling all across town to serve 6 buildings, I appreciate the quiet office space that Kristy has carved out for me in the MS library more than ever.

6. Jamie and I had the time to teach our kids how to do their own laundry and other life skills. Weekly Family Game Night is now the standard, not a passing thought.

7. I have become more connected with my kiddos. I have seen their learning strengths and weaknesses, which I really hadn't had the opportunity to notice this deeply before.

8. I can cook just about anything on a Blackstone Griddle System . It isn't just for pancakes and burgers. I can make some mean chicken fajitas, quesadillas, and fried fair foods. S'mores egg rolls, fried pickles, and coconut shrimp are new family favorites.

9. I love taking walks with my dogs and walking off my new "Quarantine 15." (I blame the Blackstone for that by the way.) Speaking of which, the Sauter Family got a puppy during quarantine. Because....why not? (Photo included at the end of this page.)

10. After having a family member's health seriously impacted by COVID-19, I am taking the time that I should have all along to reach out to those that I love and tell them how much they mean to me. I had taken a lot of my tribe for granted for too long. That has changed now.

What are the positives shining through for you these days?

Here are some apps and things that I have been using, or know that others are using to help during this time:

The Calm app is very good, but it is not free and won't be for teachers until an undetermined date. You can still use the free version though. Headspace has a free teacher subscription. I signed up our domain, so if you use your school account to set it up, you should be good to go. Contact me with any questions. Headspace is like Calm, but they also have 1-minute calm downs, focus sessions, etc., which is different than Calm. Plus...it is free this year!

Gratitude Journaling, kind of like a positivity journal, is a great way to help people deal with stress. You can do this using Google Docs, the notes app on your phone, or there are free and paid apps to help you keep track. Check out your App Store or Google Play Store to see what app will work for you.

YouTube has a Meditation and Relaxation music channel.

Spotify not only has podcasts and great music, but they also have guided meditations if you are interested in those. You can sign up for free and try it out. You can find a podcast for just about any topic you are interested. Apple devices also have the original Podcast App. Podcasts remind me of listening to talk radio. They are great background noise if you like or need that sort of thing. Personally, I listen to a hilarious Mom podcast, which features two comedians living in Los Angeles. They are from Nebraska, so there is a Midwest connection. I also listen to history podcasts, and others that give advice, or teach something I want to learn more about. Ask me if you want to learn more about finding a podcast right for you.

2. Recognize Your "Struggle Time"

Struggle is a natural part of learning. We all must struggle to really learn how to problem solve and learn. Teachers have struggle time too. It might not look the same, but you can struggle with technology nonetheless. Check out this anchor chart for students:

Credit: @TeachingWorks

Friends, as I stated above, I know PowerSchool and remote learning are two huge curve balls being thrown your way right now. I also know that some of you will sit for up to an hour trying to figure something out before reaching out for help. Sure, you are capable of spending that time clicking around to see if you can figure stuff out on your own. The question is, WHY?

What you could do when you struggle with technology:

Stay calm and be positive.

Call x-2503 if it is an immediate technology need.

File a tech ticket when you need help. Incident IQ may have tutorials built in for you to use to troubleshoot your problem. We are building that database each week.

****Email (alison.sauter@indianola.k12.ia.us) or call me (x-2192) with your technology questions. You can also call your building instructional coach(es). We will help you find a solution.****

Ask a colleague if you feel comfortable.

Check the IT Status Board for any issues with our technology programs.

What you should NOT do if you are struggling with technology:

Sit there searching for more than 10 minutes.

Stress yourself out.

Procrastinate the problem for hours or days at a time until it becomes frustrating or paralyzing to your workflow.

Let's get your problems and worries taken care of so you can continue moving forward. Now is not the time to stop moving forward. You have a support system, so please use us!

3. Know Your Instructional Technology Limits

I have a ton of resources and technology tools that you can use to teach your students. I am sure you all know this. However, as someone who studied for years about technology integration and implementation, I know it isn't the hardware or software that is important. YOU, the teacher, are the most important part of any lesson. Technology is a tool for you to get your work done. You don't have to use technology all the time, but it really helps you with your work and engages students in their learning. Technology also prepares our kids for the future.

Many of you are feeling so overwhelmed right now with the technology needed for remote learning. There are so many extra tools to choose from to deliver your lessons. There are also so many tools that you could learn more about or explore. My advice is stick to the most important things that you need to do right now. For many of you that might just be PowerSchool, Google, Seesaw, or Zoom. When we aren't in crisis mode, and we are all 1:1 in the district, you will have more time to open your mind to learning many new things. In the meantime, settle in with what you can do, learn more about what you are required to be doing, and make a list of things that you want to look at in the future.

My goal this year is to not overwhelm anyone. Take the information that I send to you this year in these newsletters and emails and decide where it fits in your technology integration timeline. Just know that I am here for everyone, no matter if you are ready to fly right now, or if you are just beginning to walk. We all have a starting point. It is where we end up that is important! I am confident that we will all land further down the road than we ever imagined we could back in 2019.

One Last Thing...

Are you struggling with getting kids to watch your instructional videos? I read an article last week about 5 ways to improve your odds of getting kids to watch them. They suggest some very practical ways to increase your audience engagement. Check it out if you are interested.

Have A Happy Halloween!

Can you tell what theme we have going on this year? Doug, Dexter & Dale are ready to celebrate the season with Ady, even if it won't be a traditional Halloween for everyone!

Credits:

Created with images by nikko macaspac - "Cause they’ve been swimming in the wrong waters. Now they’re pulling me down." • Jesse Gardner - "The Tetons, as Seen from the Banks of the Gros Ventre River Valley" • Timothy Meinberg - "untitled image" • Pars Sahin - "Dünya’nın Latin tarafı, saman hırsızlarının samanı çalarken dökmesiyle oluşan tanımı yani samanyolu’nu değil de Süt Yolu’nu (Milkyway) kullanıyor. Yunan Mitolojisi’nden kaynaklanan bir öyküsü var. Zeus, ölümlü bir kadından olan oğlunun yani Herakles’in üzerine titremektedir. Onun da ölümsüz olması için, kutsal eşi Hera uyurken oğlunun Hera’nın sütünü emmesi istiyor. Ama Hera uyanıyor ve o zamana kadar görmediği bir çocuğun memesini emmesini istemediği için, çocuğu savuruyor ve sütü fışkırarak süt yolunu oluşturuyor." • Scott Goodwill - "squamish valley on the edge of British Columbia" • From Li - "An unforgettable camping trip at Mount sunrise,Wuyishan." • Ian Keefe - "untitled image"