The life of a 21st century teacher is busy. You have to juggle teaching with course and lesson planning, parents’ meetings, marking homework – and much more. Thankfully, there are a number of digital platforms and applications out there to help you.
Teachers tend to think of using apps as teaching tools in the classroom. Yet, they can also be used for general tasks, such as workload management, productivity, and organisation. Here are five organisational and productivity apps we think every teacher should have.
With new ways of online and hybrid teaching, it can feel like there’s a lot more to manage. Trello offers a useful solution to help you take control of your daily tasks and schedule.
Open up the app and you’ll be presented with a board with separate sections; “to do”, “in progress” and “completed.” You can then add different tasks to your board (on project cards) and move them across the different stages to track your progress. You can also rename each section and add new ones, depending on your needs.
In this way, you can plan out your weeks – or even the whole semester’s syllabus on your Trello board. This will help you visualise progress and plans more clearly. Trello also allows you to attach relevant notes, links and checklists to the cards. This means you can put all the materials and information you need in one easily accessible place.
Furthermore, there is an option to add comments to the cards. You could use this as a way of reflecting on what went well in class and what needs improvement for the future. On top of all this, you can use Trello individually, or collaboratively with different teachers or members of staff.
Our verdict: Great for organising your planning and lesson prep weekly or even termly.
If your idea of organisation is to make handwritten to-do lists, then you might be interested in the Chrome-browser app, Momentum.
A simple productivity tool, the app’s main function is to act as a personalised dashboard. It offers a space to insert a well-organised to-do list and record daily goals – and whenever you open a new browser tab, it shows you your plan for the day.
We think Momentum is great for teachers. It’s easy to use and serves as a digital space where you can store and keep track of your daily tasks. Yet, there are more tricks up its sleeve. The homepage is designed to inspire the user with a daily photo of a beautiful natural scene, as well as show the time and weather. Furthermore, to help you start the day off on the right foot, it includes a daily inspirational quote.
Our verdict: If you’re looking for an inspirational way to keep tabs on your to-do list, Momentum is a great choice.
If you’ve ever felt like there aren’t enough hours in the day, then the Pomodoro Technique is for you. This time management method uses a timer to break down work into intervals of 25 minutes in length. These are separated by short breaks of around 5 minutes. Research suggests that these short breaks from work help people to focus and increase productivity.
Pomodor is a simple web-based time management app that allows you to put the Pomodoro Technique into practice. So, how does it work? Follow these steps:
Select a task from your to do list and label it on the app.
- Set the Pomodor timer for 25 minutes.
- Start working and make sure to stay focused for the duration of that time.
- When the Pomodor timer rings, take a 5 minute break.
- Then, when you’re ready, start the timer again for another 25 minutes.
Once you’ve completed your tasks for the day, the app stores this information in a statistics section of the website. From this, it can provide you with insights into your most productive working days.
Our verdict: Pomodor offers everything you need to help you stay focused and get through your daily tasks!
4. Cold Turkey
Let’s face it, it’s easy to get distracted online. Not only are we subject to constant notifications, but we are also working more than ever. With so much going on, research shows that our brains are busier than ever.
The app Cold Turkey might just have the solution. It blocks anything that distracts you – websites, applications, the whole internet, and even your entire computer. It’s aim is to step in when your willpower is wavering, removing any potential to be distracted from your work.
For example, you may have a mountain of student papers to mark or next week’s lessons to plan. All you have to do is download the app, choose what you want to block, set the timer, and get to work. The app won’t allow you to access whatever you have blocked until the time is up – so choose wisely!
Our verdict: If you need a boost of productivity, then go Cold Turkey today.
Nowadays, most of us use our personal mobile phones for contact. Yet, for privacy reasons, you can’t give students or students’ parents your personal contact details.
Slack offers a solution. This digital communication platform offers you a way to interact with your students without compromising your – or their – personal information.
Slack provides a space where teachers can set up specific subject or project channels for groups of students. They can write conversations, questions and share files through these channels. It’s also possible to set up channels with other teachers or students’ parents.
Just be aware that you won’t be able to monitor private messages between students, so you’ll need a strict behaviour policy in place and parental consent before using the platform. And, if you only choose to use the web-based version of the app, you won’t be bombarded with notifications on your mobile once you leave work.
Our verdict: If you’re looking for an efficient way to interact with work colleagues and students, then Slack is for you.