Procrastination – term 4 lethargy – searching for inspiration

image of planet with person approaching and spacecraft close by

You can tell I have more work to do than I can fit in a day when I am avoiding doing it at all costs!  Deadlines loom and I will be working frantically into the night to meet them the evening before when I could really save myself the stress and just do the work now.  But that would make life far too easy, wouldn’t it?  I am in the throes of “term 4 lethargy”; it is a highly infectious disease, caught when in close proximity to students who have had enough or who are panicking about exams and so are busily burying their heads in the sand and pretending it will all go away if they don’t really think about it too much.

This weekend, as well as trying to encourage my own son to revise and develop a study plan, I had planned to finish writing my year 10 Spanish Exam. It is mostly done but I have to put it in for photocopying tomorrow morning and so it really needs to be completed.   But my house is also a complete pigsty, washing is (was)  piled up either to be washed or to be put away, the dishwasher has broken and we had to go and look for a new one,  the garden beckons (the sun was shining today), I have friends who need support (two hour phone calls) and this morning was the edcmchat about The Great Wall of Mars.  Apart from the Yr 10 Exam, everything else got done and now I am blogging about it!

The Twitter chat was energising and, of course, I had to read the short story first – that was yesterday evenings “task”.  All work and no play, makes Jack or Jill a dull boy or girl and it also allows you to look outside the box for a short while and put things in perspective.  These Twitter chats have grown out of the MOOC (repeat of which starts tomorrow – not too late to enroll and I would thoroughly recommend it!)  in which I participated earlier in the year.  A few of us decided to form a group on GoodReads, choose a book to read each month and then chat about it.  I have been very much a bystander, a participant rather than a mover and a shaker ( I haven’t plucked up courage to moderate a chat yet) but have thoroughly enjoyed the chats I have been able to participate in.  Nor have I always found the time to read the books, but this month we had a short story which was great and I was also at home on Sunday morning to join in.

I had forgotten how stimulating it is to just chat about a book, to think about the themes, to share your thoughts with others and to spark new ideas from others’ comments and opinions.  I have created a Storify from the Tweets.  You probably need to read the story to really understand the comments.  Maybe, you’d like to join in?  Next read is “I love you like water” by Angela Slatter.

Now, where was I …..?


Pulling things together post edcmooc

Young man looking at panoramic table showing the distance in kilometres to Vancouver, Canada

Well, it is now a couple of weeks since edcmooc finished and I feel sort of empty – there is a hole in my life!  Even though I have had plenty to fill the space it has left; during edcmooc we were also building up to saying farewell to our eldest as he starts on a new chapter of his life in Canada. We saw him off at the airport last weekend and he has now been away for a whole week.  Good old social media means that we know he arrived safely – he checked into the Spaghetti Factory in Vancouver on Foursquare, posted on Facebook about taking a tour in a pink double decker bus and we saw his tweets too. Oh, and he did manage to text me as well.  Hoping that this weekend he will skype us so I am sitting with Skype open just waiting for him to come online!

Life at work has also been frantic; I wear several hats one of which is Outdoor Education Coordinator and with two camps coming up in the next four weeks I have a huge mound of paperwork; RAMS and medical forms are coming out of my ears as well as trying to sort out staffing.

Alongside that paperwork I am also part of a team reviewing the EOTC documentation and practice in school.  We had four hours of meetings this week to try to break the back of that and put in place a plan of action for next term.

I also teach Spanish so I need to leave work for my classes when I am away so I have to make sure that we have covered enough in the lessons so that they can complete online activities whilst I am away.

Finally, I am part of a team leading the Professional Development in school this year.  Our focus is Blended Learning and so we  are each leading a 5 week module on a different aspect of Blended Learning which obviously requires a fair degree of preparation.

Oh, and on top of all that, I am preparing for a two week trip to Spain during the April holidays; I was awarded a scholarship for a fully funded Spanish language course at Salamanca University which is fantastic.  However, because it is fully funded by the Ministry of Ed and the Spanish Embassy, there are plenty of hoops to jump through!

So, about that hole that edcmooc left?! Well, actually, even though it has been filled with all these other things it is only partially filled.  Something has been sparked in me and I need more. I miss the interaction, the opportunity to read the articles, watch the videos and exercise my brain with something academic. I have signed up to Goodreads and joined the edcmooc groups and hope to find time to read the suggested book “News from Nowhere”  that I have downloaded and join in the twitter chat planned for 6th April.  I am also hoping to join in the twitter chat tomorrow morning. I missed last weeks chat and although I read through the tweets afterwards, it just wasn’t quite the same!

The problem is, when there isn’t the structure of the weekly course plan, the momentum of

the discussion forum, the traffic on Twitter, FB and Google +, and when there are lots of external pressures,  it is easy to drop off the chat.  I have looked to see what other Moocs are coming up and definitely plan to do another but I know that right now is not a good time.  I want to be able to give it my full attention.  I am also a little worried that edcmooc was such a good experience for me that other moocs won’t match it!

Last week I went to lecture at the University of Waikato by Mark Pagel called “The Evolution of Human Language”.  It was fascinating.  He is an entertaining speaker and as a good speaker should,  he raised more questions than he answered.

“Each of you possesses the most powerful, dangerous and subversive trait that natural selection has ever devised. It’s a piece of neural audio technology for rewiring other people’s minds. I’m talking about your language.”

In this Tedtalk from 2011 he suggests that “social learning is visual theft” but that it is social learning, that has helped us develop as a species.  At some point in the past we realised that we had a choice – we could either protect our ideas and not let other people steal them by copying what we had discovered or we could share. We decided to share and language is what resulted.  

Language evolved to solve the crisis of visual theft. Language is a piece of social technologyfor enhancing the benefits of cooperation — for reaching agreements, for striking deals and for coordinating our activities

I am hungry for more – maybe there will be a mooc out there somewhere on the development of language?  As a lingust I have always been fascinated with how languages develop, where they came from, how words transfer from one language to another, how they metamorphose, and how language tells us so much about the culture of a people.

TAGSExplorer: Interactive archive of twitter conversations from a Google Spreadsheet for #edcmchat #edcmooc Fascinating statistics! I’m not a mathematician or a statistician and my eyes usually glaze over when I see graphs but I love the way that this graphic shows the interactions. I am also amazed and a litle proud that my name stands out just a bit! I find the Twitter chats quite energising and love the free flow of ideas that punctuate the chat. The ideas take some to process and synthesise, time which I am sorely lacking right now but I am sure that they will not be forgotten and will inform my thoughts in the future. Thanks everyone.

#edcmooc #edcmchat

Laptop computer on a table in a garden. There are roses from the garden in a vase to the right of the computer. It is a sunny day.I just took part in my first Twitter chat. An hour – well, not quite because I missed the start which was a bad move as I was behind before I even started – of fast paced tweeting with so many interesting threads and comments. However, time went fast and it was over before I knew it.  I tended to be more of a stalker than a contributor, probably because I was late to it and spent some time catching up, reading tweets and trying to work out what the questions were that everyone was answering! I retweeted and favourited but found that my brain just isn’t really quick enough to think of meaningfull comments of my own! An I am just a little bit scared too!  I connect with what one Tweeter said;

“The one thing that has concerned me is airing unformed views that might be misinterpreted. #edcmchat

I have taken a while to get going with Twitter and with blogging because I don’t feel that anyone else would necessarily be interested in what I think.  Why would they?  For a long time I wrote my blog but kept it private for that very reason.  One day I daringly ventured to tweet a new blog post and a Twitter friend suggested that maybe I should make my blog public because she thought what I had said made sense.  That one vote of confidence was an epiphany for me despite the fact that my husband had said all along that I should make it public. (But he is biased!)

Getting back to the point though, I think I have learned over the last year or so, and certainly the last week, that unformed comments have to be made so that people can react, to prompt discussion, to engender debate and as the interaction progresses the ideas take on shape, substance and depth.  So what if they are misinterpreted – that just gives you the opportunity to explain and in so doing helps you to think ideas through, it offers different points of view and forces you to think from an alternative perspective.

Thank you to all those people who retweeted my few comments or who replied to them – it is strange how empowering and encouraging that response is.

So, I think I will be more organised for the next edcmchat and more confident about making comments.  I am going to make a list so that I can add people to it when I see a comment that I resonate with so that if I need to I can go back to it later.  I am going to be brave and go for it!