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The Principal of Wellness
Bravo to all of the work that is being done to bring mental health awareness to the classroom. Schools across the nation have adopted programs and curriculums to help guide educators as they work to bring this awareness to their students. As COVID rolled through our schools, we found this to be an integral component to keeping our students connected and engaged. We know that as teachers worked diligently to support both in-person and virtual learners, social distancing and sanitizing efforts, on top of a fragile political climate, their mental health as also been taxed. In many districts, administration has recognized this and made efforts to alleviate additional responsibilities, build in mental health days, and work to promote a positive workplace environment. This lead me to thinking about our Administrators. How are they doing? They too have found themselves buried under a pile of contact tracing, quarantining protocols and now working more than ever to support their burnt out staff. So how are we working to support them? Often principals are a sole position within a building. Leaving them to not have a direct Professional Learning Community to work closely alongside and directly support one another. So as an Integration Specialist, this got me thinking. How can I help? Is there anything that I can do to help carry the load and alleviate some of their mental stress. So, I started by having a conversation with one of my principals. And to be honest, the beginning of the conversation went pretty much like you would imagine. Brushing off his needs for the needs of the students and teachers. I noticed that this principal was wearing an Apple Watch. Which lead me to ask, "How does your Apple Watch help you do what you do every day?" He looked at his watch for a second and then said, "Actually, can you help me with something? I like to use the SIRI watch face, but lately, I've noticed that my calendar doesn't seem to be showing all of my events."
Yes. Of course I can help. That's my role. I can help with technology and ensuring that your tools are talking correctly to one another!
Well, that conversation regarding his calendars not syncing correctly, lead us to an entire conversation around additional time saving tips. Here are a few that we discussed:Use Voice Memos For Feedback
Principals see amazing things happening all over their building each day. Sure you might remember to email that teacher some positive feedback, but chances are, you'll get interrupted at least 3 times on your walk back to your office. Who doesn't love to hear feedback vs. reading it in an email? Let Voice Memos help! Use your phone or your watch to quickly record a positive message, and then right from the Voice Memos app, you can email, message, AirDrop that feedback to your teacher.
SIRI and Location-Based Reminders
We have an uncanny way of thinking of all the things we need to do at work when we are on our morning commute. I recently discovered what the workflow is for many of the principals that I work with is. They email themselves. Yes, when they are driving. Now many said they pull over, or do it at stop light or even use dictation, but I couldn't help but think what happens to that email. I'm guessing that by the time they get to work, it is already buried in a pile of other emails. How about letting SIRI help with this! As soon as you remember what it is that you need to do when you get to work, home or wherever, simply say: "Hey Siri! Remind me to x, y, z as soon as I get to work." As you pull up to that location, the reminder immediately pops up on your phone. And it will KEEP popping up, until you physically go in to the reminders app and mark it complete! Which means, you are unlikely to forget about it!Walkie Talkie to Communicate with Staff
If your school has other Apple Watch wearing staff, take advantage of the Walkie Talkie app! This principal and his secretary now use this method to quickly connect with on another throughout the day! So much easier than rushing to the nearest phone! This may even be a replacement for the old school Walkie Talkies that many support staff depend on daily for their communication needs.
Custom Watch Face for Your Workday
The Apple Watch has so many great teacher tools that can be accessed right from the wrist! Need a timer, bam, just tap your Timer app. Want to see your calendar, BAM! there is is with your next appointment ready to rock! At home you probably don't rely on the same tools that you do at school. So why not make a watch face that is custom for the tools you need at work! Once you start your day, a simple swipe to the left to reveal your work watch face! Some recommended tools to include: Walkie Talking, Voice Memos, Reminders, Calendar, Timer, Activity Rings, Weather/Temperature (for those who have to worry about indoor recess).
These are just a few of the tips that I shared with that principal. When I was finished, he turned to me with tears in his eyes and said, "When you asked, how can we help to support the mental health of our principals, this, this is how. You have no idea how much you have just made my life easier. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me."
Wow! I had no idea the impact of just sharing a few little tips and tricks would have on the daily life of this one principal. This little impromptu meeting lead me to schedule a one on one session with the rest of my administrators to discover new ways our technology can make our lives just a little easier. I know this doesn't in any way solve the mental health concerns of our administration, but if we can share a tip to make their life just a little bit easier, we have made a positive impact.
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