The start of the new year in Mississippi always seems to lift my spirits. It truly is one of my favorite times of the year. For me, it finally brings cooler weather, but it also reminds me baseball season is right around the corner. For us educators, it also is the midway point of the year. This "fresh start" always seems to recharge my batteries, which helps me finish out current projects and embark on new ones. I have seen this increased focus in the schools over the years. I have always admired CTE teachers and administrators that are able to pivot in January in the right direction to help them meet their students' goals in the best way possible.
As a reminder, we will have a Spring Test Coordinator Training Day at Mississippi State's Hunter Henry Center and one training day in Hattiesburg. (Dates are listed below.) Space is limited on each training day, so please only register essential staff for these events.
At the training days, you will get to meet our newest additions to the Assessment team, Riesa Blackwell and Ben Alexander.
Riesa has eight years of teaching experience at the high school level in the areas of Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Botany, and Zoology. She also was a member of the Teacher Leadership Team, Cheer Coach, and Girls Powerlifting Coach. Riesa was also awarded Teacher of the Year at Starkville High School in 2019 and was chosen as an example of excellence by students in 2015, 2016, and 2019. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education with a concentration in Biology Education and a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from Mississippi State University.
Ben taught eight years at the high school level in the areas of history, economics, government, and psychology in online and traditional formats (secondary and postsecondary). He has spent the last five years serving either as a principal or as assistant principal at the middle school or high school levels in Mississippi public schools. He has a Master of Science in Educational Administration and Specialist in Educational Leadership from Mississippi State University. Both Riesa and Ben look forward to meeting you in person at one of the upcoming training days.
For the technology tip for the month, I wanted to encourage you in your January productivity goals. As with most things in education and life in general, there are repetitive patterns of activities that we do almost daily to achieve the same desired result. Here are a few productivity tips that may be to useful to your daily patterns:
- Canned Responses in Gmail - I know you find yourself sending the same thing repeatedly to students and parents in an email. Just by nature of teaching more than one student, the same issue comes up repeatedly. You need canned responses. Read how to accomplish this task here.
- Scan Docs on the Go - Ever need to scan a document but don't have access to a functional scanner? The iOS app DocScan lets you take a picture of the document, mark it up, and send as a PDF or JPG file. Find out more here.
- Get in Shape! - For some of us the day of physical sprints may have passed us by. But there is no reason why we can't do mental and creative sprints to segment our day outside of the traditional bell schedule. I have found the Forest app and Google Chrome extension can help you develop work patterns without distractions.
I hope that each of you had time for rest and reflection so we can be the best for our friends, families, and students.
Sean Owen, PhD