Using the iPad to Increase my Productivity

Even though there are numerous other blog posts by principals using the iPad, I have said numerous times that my blog is a great place for me to reflect on my practice and seek the feedback of others. I have learned a great deal of iPad tips from other princpals, and I will list those blog posts/helpful sites below. I plan to use this post to explain how I am using my school issued iPad to increase my productivity and spend more time in classrooms (my ULTIMATE goal as a principal).

As basic as it sounds, the top 2 reasons I use the iPad more than anything else are to keep up with emails and my calendar. Since I spend more time out of my office than in it, I am able to quickly read emails while walking the hallway and delete, respond or file for action later. I have a busy schedule (what administrator doesn’t) so I love having my calendar right there with me. This year I am planning to switch to google calendar so that my secretary can add to my calendar during the day if I’m out and about.

When I am walking through classrooms, I have just used the Notes app on the iPad to quickly type feedback to teachers and email them. We do not have wifi throughout our building, but I could still use the email feature and have this sync when I went near the wifi hotspot. I also emailed these to myself and kept them all in a folder for teacher feedback. So here’s what you would actually see me doing when I’m making rounds-when I enter a classroom I would open up a new note and start typing “Dear Ms. Carson, When I visited your classroom…” I will either type one handed (I’m getting good at that) while in the classroom or wait until I get in the hallway if any students seem distracted by what I’m doing. Then I email the teacher the note right away. Then I open my Simple Goals app (see below) and tap on my classroom walkthroughs goal to add another one for the week. Then I go to my clipboard (here’s when I need a suggestion) to find my teacher spreadsheet and write the date of my walk through. I still do this because I like to visually see who I haven’t been to yet. I would love any app suggestions to still do this and get rid of my clipboard!

I have just begun to use Evernote in place of the Notes app. Since Evernote is a web based virtual cabinet, I love that I can access my notes on my iPad, iPod, or desktop. When typing up teacher feedback, I can also add a “tag” so it will organize my notes by teacher instead of having them all within one of my email folders. The only problem I’ve found is that when I email the note to a teacher, it goes straight to their junk mail file thanks to our web filter, so I don’t think I can use this for my walk throughs.

I keep track of my daily goals with the app “Simple Goals.” This is a simple free app that just lets you keep a running total of goals for each week. This is where I keep track of the number of classroom walkthroughs, 1:1 discussions with staff, if I leave my office with a clean desk, and if I exercise (that one is usually a low number!)

I used to be the queen of post-it notes of to-do lists each day, but I have now been using the app “Get it Done.” What I love about this app is that I can organize To Do folders and categorize them by when they’re do. It is easier on my eyes/brain to just see the list of what I need to do for the day and not my entire list of EVERYTHING! Every time I remember something I need to do, I just add it in there, put a date on it and add it to a special group/folder if I need to. Some of the group/folders I’ve had running for to-do lists include: staff evaluations, summer school preparation, To Learn, etc.

Those are the main apps I use each day, but I do also utilize the following apps:
-Twitter (only can use this at home, no twitter access at school)
-Google docs
-Google Reader
-App Shopper (I love seeing when apps are down in price or FREE!)
-Various news apps
-Kindle (I also love that this syncs with the kindle reader on my iPod)
-PowerSchool shortcut (this is our student information system)

The Complete List of iPad Tips, Tricks and Tutorials

10 Ways to Work Smarter on Your iPad

iPad Resources for Administrators

Blog posts by other principals:
The 21st Century Principal

A Principal’s Reflections

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Lyn Hilt

    Thanks for sharing your process with us! Thankfully our school has wifi (you are a trooper having to deal with limited access) and we use an online walkthrough system (which honestly can be time consuming and more cumbersome than your described method) so I, too, can notify teachers of feedback right from the room. The system was only compatible from the iPad late in the year, so I’m looking forward to using it more next year. I use Wunderlist for my to-do app. I like how it syncs to my phone, iPad, and MacBook. I like being able to share lists with other users. You can star “to-dos” and it will show you a calendar of items due as well as notify you of overdue items. Might be great for walkthroughs! I previously used a Google spreadsheet to organize that, but I might need a clever app to push me along. 🙂 I also use Google calendar and the fact that it syncs with my district’s Outlook calendar for any invites I get from other staff as well as the collaborative options giving my secretary access… it’s been great. Enjoyed the post!

  2. rebeccajd

    Thanks for your ideas for using the iPad. I’m a literacy coach and we just received iPads for out 3rd-5th grade classrooms and for out Title I teachers and myself. Your ideas will help me organize my coaching cycles on the iPad.

  3. Kristen Sanchez

    Great ideas! Am sending this to the 3 principals in my building right now. I am an Evernote newbie as well and loving it! I will definitely check out your other recommendations. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Teach From Home Mom

    Isn’t the iPad an amazing thing? It’s like what I imagined the future would be like when I was in third grade.

  5. Principal Scott Osborne

    Jessica this is a fantastic post. I never considered using Simple Goals to keep track of the items you outlined.

    Isn’t Evernote amazing?

    Great post!

  6. Jason Johnson

    Great post…I use google forms for my walkthroughs…great way to check how many you are doing on each teacher and can email them the form with immediate feedback.

  7. Pearly Talks

    Great ideas! Am sharing it with my colleagues rightaway!

  8. Mr. Artymko

    Thank you for the post. I am an elementary teacher in Ontario currently enrolled the first of a two-part Principal’s course. I have a BB Playbook tablet and love it for every reason you have mentioned for your iPad. As a teacher I have found it provides opportunities for instant feedback when I record a student reading (I actually only record the page and text as they read for one minute, then we watch the video and they pick out the good, the bad and the ugly). Keep up the awesome work.

  9. Chris Lee

    Great post.

    I think you will like Evernote once you set it up to meet your needs. There are tons of ways to configure the notebooks and tags, but if you do it right Evernote can run your whole productivity system. In fact, I recently switched from using MS Outlook and Apple Reminders to using Evernote exclusively. I wrote about my experiences in my own blog post here:

    One simple trick to can try with Evernote is a create your own template and then copy/paste that template each day. This will keep you consistent while allowing you the flexibility to adapt the template over time.

    Good luck!

  10. Ellen Dietrick

    Have you tried for lists and organizing to dos….it is truly amazing in its simplicity. I use it for taking notes from walk arounds and for everything else.

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