Technology Tools
Technology Tools

Educators often take advantage of educational technologies as they make the shifts in instruction, teacher roles, and learning experiences that next gen learning requires. Technology should not lead the design of learning, but when educators use it to personalize and enrich learning, it has the potential to accelerate mastery of critical content and skills by all students.

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Used wisely, AI can ease the burden of administrative tasks, help you prioritize well-being, and grant more time for the work that only you can do.

When I was a school principal and also a classroom teacher, some days brought a relentless onslaught of demands vying for my attention. I would usually arrive early to feel more in control, but I would still find myself bracing for the whirlwind of the day. Emails piled up, urging me to make them a priority. The calendar pinged with constant reminders of staff meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and student check-ins. The to-do list seemed to multiply with each passing minute. It felt like I was constantly playing whack-a-mole, with new accountability expectations, changing curriculum, and issues popping up faster than I could complete them. When I caught a break during the day, I’d sip my lukewarm coffee, survey the situation, and feel a gnawing sense that even the most heroic effort might not be enough to keep me going.

Does this sound familiar to you? Do you ever wish you had your own personal assistant who could help you prioritize and make the whirlwind more manageable?

Exploring Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can transform not just day-to-day work, but it can also help shift your outlook on wellness in education. It is the digital assistant waiting in the wings, ready to ease the burden of administrative tasks and grant you more time.

You might be thinking, “AI? No time for that!” But hear me out. Understanding AI is exactly what busy educators need. The dream of a trusty sidekick to share the workload isn’t just wishful thinking. This innovative technology can help conquer the daily deluge, reclaim precious time, and help us find a healthy balance.

Navigating AI Responsibly

AI can be a powerful tool, but it’s important to be mindful of safety. When interacting with AI,

  • prioritize critical thinking;
  • actively question and evaluate responses;
  • double-check the information against reputable sources and your own understanding; and
  • remember that your interactions with AI platforms may be stored for improvement purposes, so avoid adding personal identifying information.

Getting Started

Popular AI models include OpenAI's ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Co-Pilot, Anthropic’s Claude, Google’s Gemini, Stable Diffusion, and others. While I don’t endorse any particular one, I recommend trying out several platforms and using them to compare your experience.

After logging in to one of the AI platforms, you can immediately start interacting with it by typing in a prompt, which is a question or a statement. The machine is designed to understand and generate human-like text as if you are having a friendly chat.

AI can open doors, but it can also show you how to open them. I recommend building a support team to gradually learn and explore these new tools together. This collaborative, scaled approach fosters better results. And then you can use AI to help you figure out how your team can learn more about AI . Here are a couple of examples to get started.

Example #1: Invite a Supportive Team

Use AI to write an invitation that entices others to join you in the exploration of this tool. It can create an invitation that clearly outlines the purpose, agenda, and logistics of the discussion.

The prompts below will help you get started. Just copy and paste the text into the conversation box or tweak it to match what you need.

Write an invitation to school personnel to join an inclusive discussion exploring the potential of AI in education. We will address concerns, share insights, and explore innovative ways to leverage technology for administrative tasks in the classroom and school. Emphasize that it will ultimately give us more time for what matters most. Insert these details: [add date, time, location, optional attendance].

Follow up this prompt with additional prompts that include your thoughts or questions; think of it as a conversation. When you finalize the email—tweak the response to match your personal style and voice.

Example #2: Generate Discussion Questions

For your first meeting, keep the conversation flowing and cater to your group’s unique dynamic with a good set of questions. Try this prompt designed to spark questions from the AI chatbot. You can easily adapt it to fit your needs.

Create a set of open-ended questions to use in a discussion session with educators. We will talk mainly about using AI for various administrative tasks in the classroom and school. Ensure these questions foster inclusivity, empathy, and meaningful dialogue. Take into account that some may be unaware, curious, or apprehensive about using AI as a tool in education. Include questions that address concerns and ways to safely use AI in school.

Diving Deeper with AI

Those two examples will get you started. As you get more comfortable with AI platforms, explore other ways to apply these tools in your educator life. Start with those issues that address your biggest need. The key is to find what works for you and your team. Integrate AI into your routines at a comfortable pace. I found AI can help in the following ways in a school setting:

  • Collaborative Decision-Making
  • Supportive Relationships and Trust
  • Personalized Professional Learning
  • Data Analysis and School Improvement
  • Parent and Community Engagement

Journey from Burnout to Balance

The journey from burnout to balance is not an easy one, but with the right tools and mindset, it is an attainable goal. You can harness the power of AI to regain control of your workload, reduce stress, and cultivate a healthier, more sustainable approach to your professional life. Compelling evidence points to the need for schools to adapt to the changing needs of both students and educators. It’s time to acknowledge this reality and work toward a future where educators don’t just survive—they enjoy the journey and thrive!

I invite you to walk alongside me on this journey of discovery and unlock the potential of AI to empower your work and well-being. I found it life-changing, and I hope you will too. Connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know! I'm actually so excited about the possibilities AI can offer that I wrote a whole book on it! AI for School Leaders: 62 Ways to Lighten Your Workload and Focus on What Matters will be published by ISTE later this year. I wrote the book to share what I've learned about AI; you’ll find practical ideas and strategies that can benefit you and your campus community—right away!

Image at top: Tulsa, Oklahoma's Hale Junior High super team members April Vogler and Mindy Schmid; photo by Neal Patel, courtesy of New Classrooms

Vickie Echols headshot

Vickie Echols

Educator and Author

Vickie Echols is a seasoned educator with over forty years of experience spanning the PK-20 continuum. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. Now a consultant with Wellness for Educators, she is an accomplished author, coach, and consultant with a current emphasis on school and district transformation and harnessing generative AI to boost sustainable productivity. Her book, AI for School Leaders: 62 Ways to Lighten Your Workload and Focus on What Matters, will be available in the fall of 2024. You can message her on LinkedIn or her website.