5 Top School Counseling Apps for Your Mobile DevicesSome of my favorite "daily drivers" as a school counselor on my Android devices.
5 Mobile Apps I Couldn’t Live Without As A School Counselor
As a school counselor – lot’s of our work is done in our offices, but getting out of our offices and into the halls and classes is very important. Many times – we need our technology to tag along with us. However, most of us have big, chunky laptops or *gasp* an old school desktop. These are not very conducive to travelling light. That is what is so great about having your mobile tech to take with you at work (or at home). The mobile tech I am referring to is our smartphones and tablets.
I use two main mobile devices: my phone (a OnePlus One with Cyanogenmod 13 custom ROM installed) and my tablet (a Google Nexus 10 with Stock AndroidTM). I will show actual screenshots from my devices under each app suggestion. Also check out the previews, videos and reviews on each suggestion via the Google PlayTM store to ensure it is a good fit for your needs (and the check it is compatible with your device).
Note: I love the Apple user – but really dislike the devices (more the cost, lack of true usability and constant sense that I need to buy the next best) – so my experience is with the Android version of the apps. I provided iTunes App Store links to each of the apps for easy access if you are on an iOS based device.
1 – Sunrise Calendar – Free
As I have mentioned in several other posts – I am very dependent on my calendar. I frequently check it and it helps me stay on task. Parents and students make appointments with me and we keep track of all those important meetings. I am able to sync all of my Google calendars (they integrate directly into Sunrise) and just prefer the usability over the standard Google Calendar app. Sunrise Calendar provides a clean, easy to use, and fast tool that I find functional.
[Tweet “Checking out some great Android Apps for #schoolcounselors #scchat”]
Another new app that I am giving a try is Today Calendar. One feature I am liking so far is the ability to see all of your appointments in the day on one screen. It makes a great way to see your day at a glance, but also have very similar design elements as Google and Sunrise calendars.
2 – Dropbox – Free
I am an avid Dropbox-er (is that even a word?) and love the ability to sync my files between all of my devices – at work and at home! This year – I actually had to shell out the money to go Pro. Now I have 1TB of cloud storage at my disposal to save photos, documents, blogging items and more on. I use this at work as well! I am able to create folders to share with parents, students and fellow staff. There are unique features that I can take advantage of via Dropbox that are not available (or as well built) on Drive.
The Dropbox mobile app lets me manage all of my cloud based folders and take a photo on my smartphone, upload it to my Dropbox shared folder, and have it on my work laptop in less than 10 seconds. I can then post the photo to social media, add it to a new project or do anything I would need to do on my work laptop.
3 – Remind – Free
Remind is a great service that recently has been spruced up. I used it during my first year as a school counselor and it had mild success, but this year brought it back from the grave to give it another shot based on some parent feedback of what they were looking for. Remind has also gone through some re-branding lately – it used to be Remind101 and now is just referred to as Remind.
Remind, which you don’t NEED a mobile device to use, sends text messages to people that sign up for “classes” . These are classes that you create (parents, class of 2016, etc). When you send short messages out – it goes out to everyone in the class. This is great for important reminders or heads ups. One of the new features I particularly like is the Chat feature. It lets users, if you allow them, message you back via the Remind app or website. You do have the ability to set office hours of when you will get notifications and you can turn this capability off if it makes you uncomfortable. I have used it and find it helpful for answering those quick questions that come up. For example, when I send “The PSAT starts tomorrow at 8am” to all the parents – I can reply to the question “What? Wait – where? Did my kid sign up?” and so on. Panic resolved.
The app is useful (and yes – on Apple too) to send messages on the go and to reply to these quick questions. Remember – they will never get your phone number and you will never get theirs. That is one of the nice things about the program. Check it out! Lots of educators are using it around the world.
4 – Google Hangouts- Free
Google Hangouts is also another must have for me. I use it to check in quickly with my colleagues (especially in the office) about questions and to hold non-time sensitive conversations. I like that I also use this (as do many Android users) as my default SMS app on my phone so all of my conversations are synced between my phone, tablet and laptop. You can access Hangouts within a Gmail window and through the dedicated app on Android.
Another great thing is the ability to jump into a video call straight from your chat app. This Hangout video chat has worked very well and prevented me from having to drive 30 minutes each way to various meetings and participate from the comfort of my own office. Skype is also widely used for video chat but Hangouts creates an integrated, one-app chat tool.
Another alternative that I have tried out in our office is Slack – a more comprehensive chat platform that is used widely at larger companies. I haven’t totally bought in (and it will likely be a stretch to have it catch on within an office or school), but still giving it a shot.
5 – Google Drive – Free
While I use the Gmail app VERY frequently – most people know and have that app installed if you own an Android device. Google Drive is sometimes an underused app within the Google Software Suite. The thing I love about the Google Drive app is that I can take my tablet or phone out into the halls and track data, Chromecast a presentation or update a spreadsheet with attendance all on the go. Then when I get back to my office – the information is all there ready to rock and roll. One change in recent past has been that you now install Drive plus Docs, Slides, Sheets, etc.
BONUS – Evernote – Free (Plus/Premium = $)
Most school counselors go to meetings. Meetings involve notes. Evernote makes taking and keeping track of meeting notes, conference sessions, etc easy and searchable. You can take photos and have them search context within the photos. Also lets you create To Do lists, set reminders, connect with colleagues for shared notes, etc. I use Evernote and Google Drive when taking most of my notes. Suggest you give Evernote a try.