Just sort of do it

“Just sort of do it” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

This post is in responses to the Edublogs Club prompt associated with classroom or office spaces. I am not sure I have that much to say in regards to the aesthetics of open planned working environment. However, I do have some thoughts on the digital spaces which I use to ‘get work done’.


As I have discussed elsewhere, my one word this year is communication. This has many facets, such as clarity of meaning, consistently responding, working collaboratively, adjusting to context and being transparent. It is something pertinent to my current job as an integration coach.

One particular challenge that I have found since transferring from the classroom into a more administrative role has been the importance of being organised. Often with the classroom there is a certain structure provided by way of classes, students and timetables. Bianca Hewes provides a useful example of this in her post on staying organised. Although I have had experience outside of the classroom before managing reports, timetables and daily organisation, most of these things had clear and consistent expectations too. I may have had my calendars and spreadsheets. However, the workflow was seemingly pre-defined by the wider organisation.  My new role is different.

Although I am hired as a coach with the focus on supporting schools with the integration of technology, this support takes many forms. So far I have developed material to support the implementation of Digital Learning Technologies, organised material around Communities of Practice, help organise Stories of Practice, as well as created various presentations. What is different about leading various projects is that they each have unique tasks and timelines. The challenge then is managing everything. Two strategies I have used to communicate this work in an open and transparent manner are Kanban and the Priority Matrix.

Kanban

A means of project management, Kanban is an agile way of organising tasks. In its most basic form it involves three columns: to do, doing and done. However, there are many different iterations. Often Kanban is done using sticky notes in a public space. However, Trello provides a useful digital form. I started out using personal boards, but have since moved to progressively involving the wider team. What I like about Trello is the means of bringing together various documents, checklists and notes in the one space. In addition to this, there are options of organising things using categories or allocating people to specific cards or tasks.

Decision Matrix

Also known as the Eisenhower Method, the Decision Matrix is designed to use time on what is important. The matrix is split into four quadrants:

Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

As a means of organising each week, I usually list the various tasks that are on the go and use the categories to prioritise. While I also add anything else in as the week pans out. I do this using Google Slides as it allows me to link to further information, such as a Doc or a Trello Card. I find this useful for not only planning ahead, but also for being accountable in looking back at what I have done over time.


So that is me. That is how I get work done. So what about you? Do you have any suggestions for me? How do you get work done? As always, comments welcome.


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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Space has been something that I have wondered about for a long time. If I am honest, it is probably the last thing that I consider when planning. Maybe because it feels like it is given, already dictated by someone else, or maybe because I lack the imagination to think about what it could be and why. Some people have challenged me, suggesting that I simply need to ask the students. This may well be the case and there are often times when I allow students to move things around depending on what they are doing. However I think that when it comes to wholesale change, that even students are limited at times by what they know.

In a recent chat on Voxer, Jon Corripo provided his suggestions for redesigning a classroom space which again sparked my imagination. His list included:

  • Better Lighting: Blow out the T-Bars and get down lights, which you can get in LED format now making them a lot more cost efficient.

  • A Stage for Students: Does not have to be much, just something that allows them to stand above everyone else when needs to.  

  • Built-in Green Wall: Every room needs a green wall and with this built in lighting.

  • 360 Whiteboard: Removing the focus on ‘the front’ by having whiteboards all around the room. This can be interrupted with versatile slat walls.

  • Flexible Furniture: Get a mixture of skinny flippy flop tables which can be nested when needed, as well as standing cafe tables.

  • Versatile Power: Instead of disrupting the floor space, get electric cord reels that you pull down from the roof.

  • Project onto the Floor: Rather than projecting onto a whiteboard or IWB, mount an interactive projector so that it projects onto the floor and students can sit around it. For example, Epsom now have an LED projector which is only $350.

Moving beyond ‘flexible’ spaces, Corripo provides a clear vision for a different learning space that is still within the confines of solitary classroom that for too many is still the norm.

Although this vision would not necessarily be the answer for every classroom, what Corripo’s list does do is provide a picture for how classrooms can be different. Another interesting perspective is that of Michelle Hostrup who provided a reflection on how she went about changing up her early years space on the TER Podcast. Such examples help develop an idea of how things could be different. What is most important is that in today’s culture of changing work spaces, we owe it to our students to iterate and develop the learning spaces that in some environments I would imagine have become stagnant over time. This starts by asking the question, is the best possible set-up and if not, then what?

So what about you, how are you restructuring your spaces? What steps do you take to extend your imagination beyond the usual. As always, I would love to know. Feel free to comment below.


If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.