Here is my plan to study for and take the Google Educator Level 1 Exam before the end of the year. I’ll be sharing my progress here and encouraging others to join me in this journey through the Google Educator Groups in Virginia.
Fall is my busiest time of year and life seems dominated by work. It’s work I enjoy and I get to collaborate with outstanding leaders and educators across the state. But, there are days when I just need to let the work go a bit and spend some time in what Stephen Covey called Quadrant Two: not urgent but important activities that focus on personal and professional development. I started today by cleaning up my desk and shelves. I’ve been sort of shoving stuff there as I come home between events and now that life has settled down for a few weeks, things can go to their proper places.
I have been using my personal time to play the guitar almost every day. I know *how* to play the guitar but needed something better than the old Mel Bay books to move me along to actually playing the guitar in an enjoyable way. I’m using a great app called Yousician that creates lessons for me and tracks my progress. It is challenging enough to keep my interest but not so difficult that I can’t keep up. The practice mode allows me to go slower and work through difficult passages. I like the way the app focuses primarily on playing but also has a learning track related to music theory. (I’m playing minor blues scales right now.) I enjoy escaping to another room away from the office and just playing for fun…no pressure to achieve other than to please myself although I am motivated by the gold stars!
Professionally, I know what I want to do but I seem to keep putting it off: I want to earn Google Level 1 Educator certification. I have a test code tacked to my bulletin board and had plans to do it this summer. It didn’t happen and I had a revelation the other day that there was never going to be a perfect time to do it. So, I am just going to figure out how to work in study time. My plan is to complete Google Fundamentals Training with a goal of taking the exam before the end of the year. Then I can participate in the VSTE training for Level 2 in the spring.
Frankly, I’m a little nervous…I haven’t taken an exam of any kind for a very long time. I’m going to see if others want to join in with me to study. MOOCs might be dead, but I think there is still a place for people learning together and supporting each other professionally. I’ll post my study schedule later today and then push it out via the Google Plus communities in Virginia. I’m not imagining anything formal but just a group of fellow travelers who help to hold each other accountable.
I write a fairamountabout living a life outside the traditional workforce. One lesson I continue to learn about living this life is that it flows and living in rather than fighting the flow is the way to move smoothly and calmly even through the rapids.
I was the road warrior in June: just take a look at my reading log. I hit a high of 13 books because I discovered The 39 Clues series on Audible. Each book takes about 4-1/2 hours of listening, which just happened to be the average length of each of my car trips. Every day was planned to the minute as each task had to be completed on time if events and trips were going to be successful. There was no time for procrastination. Within that strict regimen there was “work” and “life” as even my garden was part of the to do list. Weeding had to be done before I was gone for ten days. That meant a daylong marathon with shovel and cart. My husband shepherded me inside at dusk, handing me two ibuprofen as I walked up the steps.
And now…it’s July, and for the first time in many years, I am home. No traveling, no training, even very little “work.” My mother was worried that I was going to be bored and suggested I could use the free time to house clean. I’m thinking more Scratch programming and Raspberry Pi exploration along with early morning hours in the garden and long afternoons floating in the pool with a book.
Donna Donna got to the heart of my life when she wrote that her teaching life is “entwined with all the other cycles of my life.” She goes on:
As my summer rolls on I will honor my love of learning, my love for my family, my love for my profession and my curiosity of the world. My life cycle flows with this balance all year long. You see, I am a 12-month mother. I am a 12-month wife. I am a 12-month friend. I am a 12-month teacher. I am a 12-month human. I never take a vacation from any of those parts of me. Some parts just come out a little stronger at times but all contribute to balancing me as a whole.
I think the struggle is figuring out which part is stronger at any time as I tend to want to always focus on the work I do for others first. I resonated with Donna sitting on the porch with her hummingbirds–mine are at their height right now, buzzing me as I head out to fill the feeders–reviewing her notes from a summer workshop. For me, it would be planning ahead for my fall courses and events.
Then, I sat down at the laptop this morning prepared to put in a full morning of work and realized I didn’t have to…I could browse Twitter and that led to Tamara’s tweet and Donna’s post and some writing. It’s a different kind of work this personal reflection and community connection, and who knows where it might lead. The emails will wait; the preparation for an October workshop will wait; it’s time for the focus to be on my own learning and growing and flowing.
This song from the Byrds is based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, verses from the Christian Old Testament that remind us that there is a time and season for all things in this life.
I was reminded of these verses this weekend: I had gardening to do, finishing up a large section of a shade garden addition to my road side beds. I had been working at the bed in free hours throughout the week, pulling up the weeds in preparation for planting. The forecast for the weekend was not promising as tropical storm Bonnie was threatening a washout. So, early Saturday morning, I headed down with shovel, spade and plants. A few frantic hours of work and the bed was mostly finished.*
And then the rain came. There have a been a few moments of clearing but by now, the bed would have been too wet to do much work.
As I weed and dig and plant, I think about the lessons I’m learning that might be applied to education. One that resonates lately is how, as an independent, mostly at-home worker, I am able to work more in rhythm with the time and season. I don’t have to be at a desk by 8 AM but can start my day in the garden and then may find another hour or two later in the day. Or, I can work for 12 or 14 hours on a rainy day and then spend the next day in the dirt. This flexibility allows me to at least sometimes find that seemingly elusive work/life balance.
Meanwhile, schools have very specific schedules and right now, when it would be wonderful to have the kids outside planting and harvesting, they are in the midst of the testing season. Teachers can’t decide to ditch the testing to head outside or squeeze the testing into a rainy afternoon or let kids take the tests at home in the evening.
It just seems sad…
*I say mostly finished for, as those of you who garden know, it is never really done. There will always be tending.
As part of my attempt to balance work with life, I have added yoga to my day. I’ve dabbled with yoga in the past but decided to go ahead and start with a beginning video. My experience with yoga videos in the past have been that they have really been for intermediate practitioners and then offer ideas for how beginners can modify their poses. The instructors don’t look anything like me and seem able to stretch in impossible ways. I struggle to keep up and end up feeling pretty defeated.
Finally, however, I have found a series of videos that really are for beginners! Short bits that focus on specific areas done by a woman who at least sort of looks like me. She doesn’t have to talk about modifications because she is instructing at my level. No struggling to keep up as it moves at a slow pace.
Another lesson for educators: we need to meet our students where they are and not where we wish they were.