How I’m Spending My Summer Vacation

The 1000 word essay: “Who”, “Why”, “What went wrong” and “How I’ll Fix It”

tl;dr: In which the author emerges from a month in the wilderness, loaded with ore and happy to be on the trail home.

Guiding Question

How do I demonstrate that I am taking steps to get this project back on track?

Purpose

… to prove that I have not fallen off the face of the earth, and to answer the questions “Who is janzeteachesit?”, and “What does he plan to get out of all of this?”

Week 7

Well, so much for publishing every Saturday.

Confession time: I have been blowing off deadlines and justify it with the old, “The research I am doing is important; I’ll just make it up next week”. That was until last Monday when I realized that missing this week would put me at 5–3; missed to published. I couldn’t let that happen. At least now I am “batting 500".

Post-mortem

So … what happened? Were the missed deadlines due to a failure of vision (of the project) or a failure of execution (of the writing). At a deep level, I believe in the value of using a Design Challenge model, so I know that the vision is sound; the failure must be one of execution.

My journal and binder, organized by week, at least 100 pages of notes and drafts; image source: https://goo.gl/photos/e8Qj4bt58UNUxFGs7

Not of writing, though.

I have made time to write daily.

I have worked to optimize my writing process to be both focused and reflective.

I have pages of writing to show for it.

The failure then lies in the publishing of what I have written.


Why have I found it so easy to avoid publishing? Mainly because I have not made it a priority; I haven’t tried to optimize my publishing process as I have my writing. Okay, next steps:

  • review what I do in a day,
  • cut out some unnecessary stuff,
  • set aside some time-boxed space to compose, edit and publish.

There. Done.

Who are you, janzeteachesit?

I am a teacher with the Vancouver School Board, (Vancouver is in British Columbia, Canada, for those who don’t know). I turned 49 this summer. I planned to publish a 50-weeks-to-50-years series of articles ( à la Tina Seelig); I even had a number of them planned out. Fortunately, I figured out early enough (Week 3) that this would split my time even more than it already was and put the idea aside. Not this year. Maybe a 60-to-60, or even a 100-to-100 (as I have every intention of being alive to see my Hundredth).

I know; I will do a 15-to-15 next August. My wife and I will be celebrating 15 years of marriage — our Crystal Anniversary — next year. She is a far better Muse, anyways.

My wife and I are privileged to have 2 fantastic children: our son, who is 12, and our daughter, who is 10. Thankfully, they inherited the best parts of their parents and are a constant joy (I caught myself smiling and chuckling just now as I write about them).

2015–2016 was my 20th year as a teacher with the Vancouver School Board, my 15th year at Templeton Secondary and my best year teaching to date, although I plan on having just as good a year this upcoming one.

As far as what I teach — if the course requires the use of a Computer, I teach it; Computer Science + Computer Science Principles, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), Game Design + Animation, and Digital Graphic Arts.

My Teaching Goals for 2016–2017 are:

  • Computer Science + Computer Science Principles: expand the perception of Computer Science to include the broader concept of Computational Thinking and engage with a larger population (Grades 6–12).
  • STEM: Develop Arduino and Raspberry Pi projects, especially for Robotics.
  • Game Design + Animation: Create a complete game, both Real (Board or Card) and Digital, using a Design Thinking, Agile Game Development process.
  • Digital Graphic Arts: Launch an Online publication for showcasing student work and develop the editorial procedures to support it.

As you may be able to tell, I feel confident about the curriculum that I teach and how to deliver it.

What do you get out of all of this?

One of the inherent difficulties of teaching is that one rarely gets to “live” the content that you teach. English teachers are rarely Authors or Poets. Math teachers are rarely Economists or Statisticians. Science teachers are rarely Researchers or Clinicians. Social study teachers are rarely Historians or Analysts. Physical Education teachers are rarely elite Athletes. Language teachers are rarely Translators.

Interestingly, elective teachers are usually still involved in their community; but I have to confess that I have never published a Game or App or Animated Short or Ad Campaign, even though these are exactly the learning experiences that I try to create for my students.

This publication is an opportunity for me to actually “live” some of the curricula I teach as I plan for and teach my classes in the upcoming school year. As well, publicly documenting the process and the lessons I learn will be a chance for me to give back to my profession.

As someone who has spent almost a decade testing and iterating much of the same “stuff” that the new BC Curriculum appears to be based on, I can help separate some of the wheat from the chaff of implementing Project-Based Learning and the new Applied Design, Skills and Technology curriculum.

What will that look like? 53 articles, spanning a year from July 2nd, 2016 to July 1st, 2017, all available at Redefining the Classroom

Next Step

Empathy and Understanding, the first Design Thinking phase and the biggest stumbling block.

Backlog

Retrospective

Keep

  • Improvements to the writing process: Session Log, Dating EVERY page of writing, adding daily writing to Google Photos for easy review, maintaining Binder for writing that is organized by week.

Drop

  • Drop “Commit” — If it is in the Retrospective, it is a “Commitment to Action”. The “Backlog” is the place for items not “Committed to” for “Immediate Action”.

Add/Change

  • Change “Add/Change” to “Improve”
  • Add “Publication” — “Redefining the Classroom”
  • Simplify Retrospective phase of Session Log.
  • Improvement to the Publishing Process.

Commit