Monday, June 24, 2013

June Hiatus

Beloved Blog,

I am taking a much needed break from blogging, and everything else that involves a glowing screen.

After two full weeks of contract work, followed by finishing up spring quarter, I am giving myself a little hiatus from work. A bit of a recharge before summer quarter is in order. I spent an entire morning reading and drinking coffee. I haven't looked at my calendar in days! Glorious! I'm spending my days reading, writing (with pen and paper), gardening, running on trails, riding my bikes, watching movies, sunning with my dog, and staring at the damage the slugs are doing to my garden. When I return, I'll blog about things to come, an award that I won that still makes my jaw drop, and how this summer is a bridge to new things to come. Happy June!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Feels Like Work, Only It's Not
It's the last week of the quarter, and I have a major project due in my grad class in less than a week. I'm trying to get all of that work done while working my more than full-time job. This past weekend, I did some training to become a trainer for a freelance job, so I'm kind of behind on everything this week. I felt so burned out yesterday after work that I couldn't get anything done. Me and the mister sat on our lovely deck with the dog. We watched the sun dip ever closer to the northwest while various birds flew in and out of our yard. Some of my flowers are starting to bloom and I'm reminded (once again) of how much I love my daisies, zinnias, and lavender plants. There is a constant party of bees on the lavender.

It was a hot afternoon in the PNW, so we toasted a cold beer to the end of the quarter. I am reminded of my research about teacher burnout. Taking a mental break helps keep everything in perspective. Indeed.

Still the many things to do on my list remains. Ever stare at your list and not know where to begin? Usually when I get that feeling, I write in my journal, but today I'm turning to my blog. I'll join the millions of other bloggers who blog about blogging. (I'm pretty sure I used to make fun of bloggers, so that's a story for another time).

Here are two things that are valuable to me about this blog:

1. I've been able to record my thoughts about projects that I am working on, so blogging feels like work, only it's not. With conference presentations and now my graduate project, I've been able to cull ideas and thoughts that would have been buried in my personal paper journal. Unlike my paper journal, I blog knowing there is an audience (not that big of one, mind you, but I do have some readers). My journal feeds the creative writer in me. This blog, albeit something I started for a MOOC, has grown on me. It's become part of my writing practice. Who knew?

2. I've connected with people I have never met, who I don't see enough, and I've become a part of a larger network of learners. Teaching, especially as adjunct, is an isolated profession. I've worked at my college for almost a decade, and I have just recently met people I wished I had talked to years ago. This blog has helped me make some valuable connections.

Here are two things I wished I had known before I started blogging:

1. My URL includes the name of the MOOC I joined, and my title has a built-in timeline. I'll need to create a new URL next year. Maybe that's not such a bad thing, but I wish I had not chosen a year in my title. I also don't always blog about Ed Tech. Honestly, I thought I would delete the blog after the MOOC.

2. I wish I had started blogging at the start of my grad program. I have so much to use from my last two classes while I've blogged, but my paper notebook that I started in 2010 feels like an anchor. I just get lost in looking at my old work. It's easier to put together ideas by scrolling through my blog. Who knew? My experience has made me think a great deal about what my students are going through when they use a LMS to gather their portfolios. The current LMS I am using as a teacher is a nightmare for students to find their own work, so I empathize. It's not an easy medium to navigate for reflective writing. Blogging, on the other hand, encourages the type of reflection I try to teach my writing students.

So what's going on for June? Once I complete the quarter as a student and as a teacher, I'm going to focus on some time off before the summer quarter begins. I really want to write an article about the presentations I've done this year, and I need to keep researching. So I did some clicking around, and I signed up for a Mini-Course on Web 2.0 Tools through the Powerful Learning Practice. They send participants emails everyday for two weeks about different web tools in order to start a personal learning network. So far, I know everything they have sent me, but I like their format for the trainings. They send a short engaging invitation email about the tool, several links on how to get started, some examples, and then a question to consider for tomorrow's email. It's also free (or I wouldn't be doing it). I can see this idea working for a small cohort of teachers trying out new ideas for teaching. It's like work, only not really.