Do you really need an app for that?

June 21, 2019
By: Charlotte Harling, Head of Observe

As we approach the end of another academic year, thoughts turn to September and the fresh challenges which await. Perhaps you’re moving schools, or maybe taking on a new role, but even if you’re staying put, you might start making resolutions for the year ahead.

Work less, drink more water, fewer cups of coffee, network, COLLABORATE… <insert buzz word here>.

Most of us can’t work longer hours than we already do, but we all want to work smarter.

What are your time-drains? Do you really need all the systems and tools you’re currently using? How do you plan to share the best practice examples of what’s seen in classrooms?

We don’t need a tool for that,” you may think. “We can do all this on a spreadsheet or write things down on paper. Our teachers don’t like change, so it’d be a waste of money!”

This is completely true. You don’t need a tool – not really. Do we truly need many of the conveniences technology afford us? Probably not. Theoretically, you don’t need a tool to do anything, but when you find a good fit, it really does help.

Spreadsheets and paper systems regularly become a tangled mess of out-of-date documents and broken lever arch files. Maybe it started off simple and neat, but by now it likely feels like a battle to even keep it accurate – and with helpful input from colleagues who just wanted to make that column ‘stand out’ or tweak the headings to make them ‘clearer’, it can only really get worse from here on out. Spreadsheets offer a familiar and flexible friend and, of course, they are (sort of) free, but isn’t this information important enough to want to share and get right?

Teachers deserve their professional development to be taken seriously and invested in – simply put, spreadsheets and paper don’t scale. In my experience, so many schools have nearly everything they need already within their four walls, but many can’t harness it efficiently enough to share what talent they already have. I believe this is a great shame, but on a positive note it is one of the more surmountable challenges of current times. My resolution is to help more schools’ leaders to embrace the power of technology which will help them to lead their schools effectively.

The best tool isn’t the one with the most graphs, the snazziest and most expensive, or the one you’ve used for the past 5 years – it’s the one which is right for you, your teachers and your school.