I remember my first week at UWCSEA in 2012. It was a rollercoaster. On the one hand I couldn’t quite believe my luck at being in this amazing school surrounded by all these inspirational and capable people. On the other hand I had just arrived from a school in Kenya with intermittent electricity, snail-speed internet and just 1 temperamental photocopier for the whole of high school. Here I was in Singapore, trying to negotiate my way around Google Drive, figure out the OLP (then fondly known as the ECO – East Curriculum Online), work out the difference between a Google doc and a Google sheet and get my timetable onto my google calendar. As someone who likes to feel organised I did not feel remotely in my comfort zone.
Since then, of course, I have become so used to using these and other tools that I now wonder how I ever managed to operate as an educator before I discovered the Google doc. But I remember how it felt to be so overwhelmed and so I wanted to provide my list of my top 5 tips for keeping organised at UWCSEA.
TOP TIP 1 Making space on your bookmark bar
Make more space on your bookmark bar by just having the App’s Icon and deleting the label (2 finger click on the icon, edit, delete text, save). I also use folders: like “MTG” with links to all agendas; and Feedback with links to student blogs in sub folders. It takes a little time to set up initially but then saves so much time because you can open them all at once when you are marking (2 finger click, open all in new window). Whenever I feel as if I am ‘drinking from the hydrant’ I simply drag the link into the right folder to come back to later.
TOP TIP 2 Google Keep
This is my goto app to note down everything I need to do on different coloured notes. It’s simple to use, free, has satisfying checkboxes to tick off and it’s synced on my phone too. You also have the option of sharing a note with someone else – so team “to do lists” are an option too. I have a couple of pinned notes at the top: one is Important and Urgent, the other is Important but not Urgent. I try to cross at least one off each of these two lists every day.
TOP TIP 3 Google calendar
There are all sorts of clever tricks with Google Calendar – like colour coding different types of events; subscribing to other calendars and then copying events from other calendars so they are all in one place; allocating specific tasks to specific time slots, or adding the attachment to the event so that everything you need is in one place.
TOP TIP 4 GMail
Create useful groups so you can send emails or calendar invites to relevant people easily. CIMS lists enables you to easily get email addresses for, say, all IB Geography students. I also create groups like IFP or Focus Africa so I can invite them all to events without having to type lots of names in. When you issue an invite to the Gmail group all the members are invited to the event. Creating your own groups gives more scope for nuance too. For example, I have include all boarding house parents to my ‘parent’ groups so they are automatically also informed when I inform parents.
TOP TIP 5 UWCSEA Guidance docs
In the Humanities Faculty we have created a one stop shop for all school policies called: How we do things here. This is updated regularly so everyone has a handle on the big culture pieces like guidance docs for OAGs and IA. It is organised alphabetically with hyperlinks so everything is easier to find.