One of the most difficult parts of an educator’s job is staying on top of all of the preparation required in each and every lesson taught. The pressures on educators to not only help learners achieve fantastic results but to make those lessons relevant, purposeful and to stay on top of curriculum developments and other statutory changes is huge. With all of this pressure and wanting to always do right by the learners in your classroom, teaching is most definitely not the easiest of jobs! It is not so much about keeping plates spinning but more like trying to work with 363234234 tabs open in your browser at the same time.
Luckily there are lots of easy ways in which technology can help, and if you’re a teacher you’ll know that one of the best productivity tools going is Microsoft’s Office 365. Free for teachers and students with all of the features you know and love from Microsoft, you can access resources, ideas, tools and more to help you communicate, collaborate, share, and be more efficient in the classroom, all whilst supporting sound teaching and learning in your classroom.
One of the key ways I use to help me in getting help with my work is through my professional learning network of educators on social media. My main ‘go to’ sources are found on Twitter although there are some fantastic resources available on websites such as Pinterest, too. When it comes to Twitter there are some great accounts you can follow to get new ideas and examples from real classrooms to inspire your use of technology.
A selection of great people to follow on Twitter in this area are:
Added to this on Twitter, there are regular chats held where educators including those with MIEE and MIEExpert status discuss and share ideas around teaching and learning with technology. These chats are held using the hashtag #MSFTEduChat and its associated Twitter account @TweetMeet.
Tools to inspire
If you’re looking for new tools to inspire and engage teaching and learning in your classroom, a great starting point is to explore the Microsoft Store for Education. If you’re not really a social media person or like to have more control over the resources you get to view, there are a significant number of resources shared by Microsoft to inspire and encourage collaboration beyond that on social media.
Learn more about how you as a teacher can collaborate on all devices either in your teams or with your classes by visiting the main Office 365 site. Here you’ll also learn that both you as an educator and your students can access Office 365 Education completely free. This great offer includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and the great teaching and learning workflow and collaboration tool, Microsoft Teams.
When I find a great resource to use in my classroom one of the first things I’ll want to do is talk about it with other people. I’ll want to find out if anyone else has used it and what sort of impact it will have. The Microsoft Educator Community is a great place to ask questions such as these.
If you want to share you discoveries with your colleagues, Microsoft Teams has you covered there too. Microsoft Teams is the hub that brings everything together for teaching and learning in your classroom and as the name suggests, across your teams too. As a teacher you want a nice centralised, easy to use, collaborative and robust tool to support your activities as a teacher. This is where Teams delivers. You can set work. You can collect in work. You can give feedback. You can collaborate. You can give every learner a voice, such an important aspect to ensuring equity and inclusivity in education. You can link in your OneNote Class Notebooks. You can send quick messages to your colleagues. You can quickly share files with colleagues. It all ties in with One Drive. The list of superb, workload reducing, efficient productivity activities you can undertake in Teams is phenomenal. As you would expect there is a whole load of support available to you to get started to. A great starting point will be to visit the dedicated Teams site here.
When you’re ready to really get a rocket load of support across all of the Office 365 suite, I can highly recommend a visit to the Office 365 Training Centre where you’ll be able to get access to free training in Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint and of course Teams. Here you’ll learn time-saving tips, how to share, co-author, communicate and collaborate as a team, see what’s possible with amazing education focussed templates in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. I hope you’ve found these resources helpful, I can’t wait to hear what you come up with!
About the author
Mark Anderson is a former teacher and school leader and now award-winning author, blogger, speaker, thought-leader and trainer around all things to do with teaching, learning and effective use of technology in the classroom.
Mark firmly believes that education is a force for good and under his moniker of the ICT Evangelist he strives to demonstrate how technology is something that can help to make the big difference to the lives of learners and teachers alike.