It’s been a fair while since I’ve posted here. That’s fine. Life has been busy, and the mind has been stimulated.
Work at the moment is busy. I am fortunate to work for a HoD that knows how busy English teaching can be, and they manage that workload tremendously well. There are, of course, aspects of teaching English that are invariably busy, and emotionally demanding. I know, now, why teachers might stop revising their pedagogy after a number of years: the busy nature of classroom teaching means that time to reflect is perhaps best spent elsewhere (not least a nourishing personal life).
I want to revise the purpose of this website.
It was initially made when I was teaching in Scarborough. In lieu of regular pedagogical reflection, it was a way for me to talk to a readership (which was not unsubstantial). As I also taught the same curriculum for a number of years (a rare experience for me the past four years internationally – something that connects me with those back in the UK!). This meant that I had time and space to reflect on what I was doing.
For a variety of reasons (mostly financial), I decide to forgo reading an MA. I was going to reading ICT – my common middle manager role in departments – but I felt that I wanting something more subject specific. This year, I began my MA.
As is usual with my approach, I wrote about 15k-20k words of notes for a 5k essay. It took me many hours of study, of walking blind alleys, of purchasing a ridiculous amount of Kindle books, before I realised how to source books via the online library. Despite the ardour, I found reading for the MA easier than marking books, especially if I was not necessarily marking books for predictions of pedagogical impact.
At this point, I want to reflect on what I am doing as a teacher of English/literature, why I am doing it, and what kind of lifestyle I want. I want to teach with the same intensity as I have always done (as a sprinter!), with the same reflection (as an artist…), with a rich and full life outside (with connections, writing, and experiences). To this, I want to do what I have done on this blog for about ten year: reflect on what I have done, and what I will do, in an attempt to talk to others within my niche.
I don’t intend to talk about the politics of teaching.
So, to do this, I want to reflect on my use of Wunderlist.
It has been good for ensuring that every task set for me is on my desk. No email is sent, or task given to me, that doesn’t make the list in some form. Along with Google Calendar, I have hit every deadline set for me for the past decade or so.
Tweaks I can applied in the past five years:
a) I have a ‘someday’ list. This list is where I put the tasks that I would do if I had some time. In practice, this has become a graveyard.
b) I have begun to use reminders less and less; I have less free time in which to schedule things, and find that notifications are easy to miss.
c) I check my list 5-6 days out of 7. I need to acknowledge that a life cannot be led by a list, and that my spirit means I have to have non-list days.
d) I tried to use a Tony Robbins (bah!) technique of using metaphors for my todo list categories (Mr Reliable; Meat Skeletoning etc). In practice, I find that this wasn’t so motivating as my tasks were placed in ‘have to do’ or ‘nice to do’, or ‘routine’.
e) I have not really been completing as many projects in the past few years as I usually do. Therefore, I have not really had a need for multiple lists.
f) I used to use the star list for tasks I really needed to complete. In practice, this meant that I just associated the star with urgency. I began, instead, to use it with tasks that were more nourishing. I think a limit of 3-5 is ideal for this. I recently was set a series of goals with a friend; more than 3-5 dilutes their purpose too much. Moreso than this, I don’t always enjoy the spaces of time to refer to the star list.
g) Using my smart-watch is really useful, especially in times when I really am quite busy. Usually, though, scheduling via a calendar is most useful for when the day is busy and unusual.
What do I want to do?
At this time, I want to reduce the number of tasks I receive each day. I can’t remember the last time when I looked at my lists (Master Craftsman has 170+ tasks).
Therefore, I want ‘active’ and ‘passive’ lists. That is, the active list is stuff that I can action on. The passive list is information that it useful. This way, I might actually look at the active lists. I think an active list is stuff that I will pass on.
Of course, a ‘passive list’ also operates as a bookmarking site, of which an actual bookmarking site would be preferable, especially if integrated with Wunderlist.
Ultimately, I want to have a manageable to-do list with a reduced number of tasks, and with a useful focus on the long-term, nourishing tasks that get buried when energy is expended elsewhere…