10 Ways to Upgrade Your Education for 10 or Less

10 Ways to Upgrade Your Education for 10 or Less

Contributed by Nellie Mitchell, thislittleclassofmine

When my district technology office sent me an email last week of school announcing that we would get a new computer in mid-summer, I was overjoyed.

The MacBook computers we’ve been packing for the last five years are great machines, but I’m ready to upgrade. Guessing the news that new computers could be on the horizon, I started organizing my computer two months ago.

Along with the announcement came a 7-page document outlining our lesson plans, steps and options for backing up files and slideshows. Computing has changed a lot in the last five years. Now, instead of backing up our documents on CD, as we got the new computer last time, we are being encouraged to use the cloud. Save the file to Google Drive. Create a ‘Keep’ folder with only ‘Required’. District will not transfer large files, media files or images. It is our responsibility to remove those items from our devices before upgrading (Glad I started a head!)

I have been with the district for the rest of my career, and this time they provided us with a third computer: – Needless to say, I have a lot of files. When I moved to a new classroom last year, I started dropping folder and packets of ‘Idea’ photocopied for my PIN board and ‘Flipboard’. I have assembled three filing cabinets. Most of the things I’ve thrown away already exist in a new and improved digital version.

What happens when you upgrade your computer

Deleting old files from my computer feels the same. My iPhoto was filled with thousands of photos and videos. There were documents in my document file that I created as a student teacher. It’s free to delete old documents, forms and photos backed up elsewhere. There is really no reason to store every single thing on a device. Most of those things were unusable, irrelevant chaos.

It’s nice to organize things randomly stored in their new home in the cloud It’s fun to browse through the links I bookmarked a few years ago and update my bookmarks toolbar to just the necessary links.

For me, upgrading means a new computer, a clean, fresh start for next year A real upgrade is much more than rolling out some new shiny hardware. It’s about evaluating what’s out there, getting rid of old tools and thinking and investing in the future.

Upgrading means evaluating the way you work, evaluating legitimacy, and saving only really good things. Upgrading means taking the time to clear up the mess. This means adding unnecessary waste to only the essentials. Upgrading is systematically sifting things that are in front of you all the time, but are no longer relevant. It’s about chaotic concepts and content management. It’s about updates and reboots. That means changing for the better.

It’s good to have some time this summer to work on the upgrade. In a regular school year, I don’t have many hours to devote to such a transformative project. Upgrades have made me think about other aspects of my education that are worth considering for the time being. What else is needed for an overhaul? Maybe you are already super organized. Maybe you have upgraded your computer.

‘Old Chaos’ is a comprehensive purification?

A shiny new idea?

An evaluation of your old classroom management policy?

A whole new system of data collection?

We’ve put together a list of ideas to help you upgrade your learning practices this summer. Obviously, traveling, reading, resting and taking breaks during the summer is important, but implementing one of these proposed upgrades now would be a good investment in the long run.

10 Ways to Upgrade Your Education for 10 or Less

1. Clean!

Clean, sanitize and restore. Clean filing cabinets. Clean off your computer. Save only the essentials. Back up your important documents in the cloud. Browse through links bookmarked a few years ago and update the bookmarks toolbar with only the necessary links. Clean up old worksheets and curriculum tools that no longer apply to your classroom.


2. Manage your email

Manage your email. Delete irrelevant messages and go through the process of unsubscribing from the mailing list. Take an inbox zero visit to help avoid spam / junk / mess all year round.


3. Increase a PLN

See What is a PLN?

Join a Twitter chat. Fact: 44% of users signed up for Twitter never sent a tweet! Connect with resources that will strengthen your personal learning network. This will be a great investment in the future. Free.

4. Find an Ed camp near you and sign up.

It’s an incredible source of professional development and since it’s summer, you don’t have to create sub-plans. You might just find that shiny new idea!

Cost: Free (and free meals!)

5. Study a book

Gather some teacher friends and study a book. Visit a few times this summer to talk about books at the pool, for brunch, or for teacher-night. I recommend Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us Daniel Pink, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhig or Thinking, Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman.

Cost: All three have a Kindle version for under $ 10.

6. Take a course

Take a class on something that you admit is not good enough to understand the perspectives of struggling students. Seriously. A few hours in a dance or sewing class and you may be ready to give up. The process will be good for you and it will give you some insight into the frustrations of your students. This will allow you to observe a teacher in a different content area and setting, which can potentially transform your own practice.

Cost: Prices vary.

7. Print and document

Okay, this suggestion might create a little more physical chaos, but having real evidence of student projects, collaborations, and fun times in the classroom is a great investment in the future. Print them, hang them, share with colleagues, and use them in your classroom exhibitions or for parent conferences the following year. If you never print, view or share them, why bother backing them up and transferring them from device to device? Use it or lose it.

Cost: varies. The online printing service deals 99 prints for 0.99.

8. Community service

Make a community service project and plan to implement it next year. Find out how to use your existing curriculum to make the world a better place. Find inspiration in a local, real-world problem. Do the legwork now and introduce it when the students are busy. A dual investment in the future.


9. Reflect

Spend time reflecting and evaluating why / how you do things. You could finally start or view that blog Reflective learning prompt.


10. Use the collection

Collect like Pinterest but without all the clutter. Spend some time organizing your screenshots, photos and other digital rentals.

Cost: varies, mostly free.

What can you do to improve your education? What can you do to make your teaching practices better? Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips for upgrading teachers!