Day 62 (of 2022/23) some thoughts on workload and work negativity… sometimes less isn’t…

Day 62 (of 2022/23) some thoughts on workload and work negativity… sometimes less isn’t…

A couple tweets and a couple informal chats have led to me thinking about workloads… in part because it’s December and there are many end-of-calendar events that take more of that precious resource: time; but also a tweet from a site where there is some reflection on workload:

I’ve always been proud of our approach to workload: no expectation of marking, no formal lesson plans, no BS data, no expectation of email responses out of hours, attempt not to have spurious meetings.


And one takeaway from a Russian history course professors lesson… when there’s a ‘but’ everything before that is irrelevant and what follows is the more important part:

…But I know that colleagues are feeling it, and I don’t think it is just because it is Nov/Dec.

I wonder if I’ve got complacent about our approach and things are creeping in that are less effective.

And my view has long been that we need to be mindful of our time because sometimes “less is more” and not in a good way and sometimes “more is less” – as I have found when my back hurts, more walking helps… more reading… etc. and I know, this is not a ‘universal’ truth… and I know that following a guided gradual release of responsibility helped me. In my first years, my day plans were much more detailed until the muscle memory knew what LO in my day book meant (and why I hated subplans and evolved to just make ‘fake days’ for the times I was away) but early on, I put the work in (while coaching sports and with making time for family). Wasn’t easy and if I broke down my salary into an hourly wage… well… that’s why educators are on salary – because while the school day ends when the students are dismissed… the educators day isn’t over.

And here is where I am hearing more pushes regarding workload… the conflict between work, family and personal time. And I have always supported flex time – some years I had to leave ‘with the kids’ to make coaching commitments (and sometimes to help with getting kids to dance or soccer) and would do my assessment and prep later in the day – also I like being at school early because I get tired by the end of the day and need a distraction to refresh myself.

But, as with students and learning, there is no one way that is ‘best’ – but if things aren’t working and people “aren’t feeling it” we gotta be responsive – if “it” isn’t working things need to change. And a chat about consistent structures led to a fun discussion where I shared that rarely did I have the same (for example) morning structure… I had one cohort that worked best with a soft start (with some chronic lates by a few/bunch of minutes) with some reading opportunities to start the day; yet another cohort did better when we hit the gym and cranked the speaker up and got moving right away. But neither way was known for day one – I had to collect a few tricks to then be able to be okay using different methods that the learners responded better to.

So as the tweet thread continued…

For what it’s worth, I think the number 1 thing that impacts on workload and is hidden is behavioural drift. Behaviour gets microscopically worse week by week and then is suddenly much worse and like a boiling frog, we don’t notice it happening.

I like this comparison because nothing happens (nor is fixed) overnight. And there is the post(ish)-pandemic reality where we see a) illnesses are still here – Covid amongst them, and b) the yearn for a return to the “good old days” is not what was hoped for… or we are mis-remembering what was…

But as the thread wound up: I fear a little bit that the increased needs of our pupils and the reduced capacity of health and social services mean that it is ~impossible to make the job manageable. But we have to keep trying.

And another tweet then jumped on my timeline that was serendipitous: Was told in my first yearly review by my new job that I need to work on to continue to unravel the ingrained toxic American work culture I have embedded. That they are worried I am working too much and not keeping work/life separated. First time I have ever heard that.

And an article I stumbled upon said this re “relentlessly negativity.” I think sometimes they aren’t actually that passionate about the negative things they’re saying, they just aren’t very good at conversation and have gotten used to using these remarks as a social crutch, and, weirdly, a (misguided) way to connect with people.

Some more thinking and reflecting to go!

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Day 61 (of 2022/23) musical reprise from covid shoutout to @nbcsnl

Day 61 (of 2022/23) musical reprise from covid shoutout to @nbcsnl

During the pandemic, we were in able to assemble as frequently…ever. So I came up with a different way to share my Yuletide greetings… format: old MacBook (pre air/pro) and PhotoBooth…

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Day 60 (of 2022/23) and it’s December… some December foreshadowing – coding edition @codeorg @appleEDU @codemonkeystu

Day 60 (of 2022/23) and it’s December… some December foreshadowing – coding edition @codeorg @appleEDU

Traditionally launches some neat activities for hour of code in December: (all have great teacher guides to start you off)

Apple also has their swift playground:

Code Monkey is also doing a free hour of coding:

I’ll continue to share ideas out for coding ideas… but these three are key starting points for me that I’ll be targeting)g to some classes as December gets into full swing, and this year we are in class right up to the 23rd…

And if an hour seems daunting, then I will also be sharing…wearing my thematic ties… some short ideas to stick a toe into the coding mindset… like the coding tree…

Happy holidays of all sorts this month!

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Day 59 (of 2022/23) good readers re-read – on fiction and @richardosman

Day 59 (of 2022/23) good readers re-read – on fiction and @richardosman

I misread a ‘habit’ from a list of ‘what good readers do’. I nodded when I read “good readers re-read” because I have and do re-read favourite books. That was not the point of the list… which was much more narrow in focus and meant re-reading unfamiliar words. Which could take me into a look on the current debate around teaching children to read… I am a whole language practitioner and as my mentor emphasized, yes that includes phonix and phonological development.

But also a love of books.

I was lucky as I developed a love of reading early and often. I have a few books on my re-read list and am planning on re-reading the Game of Thrones series in 2024 in anticipation of GRR finishing the next book by 2026… but much of my love has been around fiction (and I have checked off many of those ‘top 100 fiction books’ that came out around y2k) though I have appreciated more non fiction in recent years.

But then came Richard Osman. Loved him as our family discovered Taskmaster and then went backwards to Pointless and House of Games. Amazing shows and we started digging more into Osmans when we learned he was leaving Pointless (choose answers that have the smallest number of correct answers – though we ffwd when it is about cricket cuz we don’t know that sport (which also disappoints us when the topic come up on other amazing quiz shows like Only Connects) nd Richard announced he was stepping away to finish some stories he was working on. We scoffed then realized he signed a 7 figure deal for 3 books. That got our attention…

The Thursday Murder Club. I assumed would be a standard mystery series. It’s so much more. Each book is another layer of character development. Each chapter encourages reading ‘just a bit more’ and as much as there is some foreshadowing, that has not yet led to me completely unravel how things will resolve themselves. Two of the lead characters have me picturing characters from Downton Abby – but the secondary characters are likewise compelling.

Most of the times I am reluctant to recommend fiction in a broad format. But I am so looking forward to book four (next September – ugh) that I am confident that this is a book series that will attract more people back into long-format reading. As my share last month highlighted via Johann Hari’s Stolen Focus, it is going to take some encouragement and practice to refine our practicing things like reading series of books. This is a book series that is enjoyable (and has prompted some fun tweets)

Need a gift to give this holiday season? This is the fiction to try out!

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Day 58 (of 2022/23) #movember shave time… (with a shoutout to @drex & @heylandsberg and of course @movemberCA #sicknotweak @sicknotweak

Day 58 (of 2022/23) #movember shave time… (with a shoutout to @drex & @heylandsberg and of course @movemberCA #sicknotweak @sicknotweak

I want to re-emphasize that a horrible fundraiser am I. There are many who are much more able than I am to raise funds. And the reasons are good and justified. The procedures and knowledge gained via work supported by heart & stroke foundations made my cardiac event positively different from my fathers three decades ago.

And we need to talk more and normalize the conversations. Michael Landsberg had been phenomenal with his #sicknotweak campaign talking about his own mental health. And BC radio star @drex had his own cardiac event that impacted a broad community as well. Because awareness matter as does talking about mens mental and physical health. It’s why I did a Movember themed takeover of a #bcedchat and why I will remind some who “tease” about mancolds (and recently about some vasectomy recoveries) that the cost of that may be that the males in their lives may not mention that they are feeling a tightness in their chest… or that their body is a little “off” (my dads key symptoms were nausea and horrendous gas) rather than risk being to made to feel foolish.

And as I heard from the medical professionals loud and clear: they would rather do one unnecessary ECG than not…

We need to change the narrative (regardless of gender) that talking about mental and physical health is not a weakness. There are times I will joke that “pain is weakness leaving the body” and “just rub some dirt on it” to alleviate a situation using my football mindset, but that depends on the relationship I have with the person. I normally default to ‘might be worth a visit to the doctor’ as well as normalizing the use of medications and therapies. There are many reasons why I was an early adopter on mindfulness strategies and the importance of self care. I’ve been an early adopter is many ‘things’ that have become normalized and I am hoping that talking about health is next!

So I will continue to encourage people to talk to me when they have a concern (not just when I am unshaved in November), but I also applaud people like @drex and @heylandsberg because their reach is much further than mine and the message needs repetition and amplification – that our minds and bodies may get sick, but that by no means means it is a weakness.

If you’re thinking of self harm, you are not alone, and that is a thought that indicates you do need some support(s). If your body is acting unusual – visit an ER. If you’re chest is hurting – that is a reason that ambulance paramedics are standing by (I got yelled at a bit when describing how I got to the ER – but I wasn’t driving and I was close, so it was the fastest way to get to some care; but paramedics have all the tools to get the body reset and may be faster for most than going through the ER reception. There is a team ready for you – even if you don’t know who they are (yet).

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call Wellness Together at 1-866-585-0445 or Talk Suicide at 1-833-456-4566
Youth: 1-800-668-6868
text CONNECT to 686868 for youths or 741741 for adults.
Hope For Wellness for Indigenous peoples: 1-855-242-3310
Or … 911 in North America, 999 in the UK – not sure of emergency numbers in other countries.

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Day 57 (of 2022/23) on making relationships with thanks to @ADITI_SHRIKANT from an earlier tweet back & forth with @tombennett71

Day 57 (of 2022/23) on making relationships with thanks to @ADITI_SHRIKANT from an earlier tweet back & forth with @tombennett71 – Nov 17 2022 at 1022am

The making of relationships is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a relationship must have THREE DIFFERENT STRATEGIES. (Sorry – I totally thought of TS Eliot while thinking about this article…

Here’s part of the thread that got me thinking…

Been hard to find the words on what to do more specifically when talking about the importance of building’s very personal… but then an article highlighted three key strategies to use… and fit in with a statement I will repeat ‘sometimes the student staring out the window is more engaged in learning than the student staring at the teacher…’ so, if wondering how to start building relationships with learners who don’t have a common upbringing (heck, can’t even count in the majority watching the same shows on Sunday night)… start with the 3T strategy…

The 3T strategy which consists of three steps (from

Tune in: Make a conscious effort to notice what your student is focusing on. “Let’s say you’re sitting at the table with a student eating a snack, and you see them looking out the window, try to follow their line of sight and tune in to what they’re focusing on. Then, ask them a question that prompts them to talk about it.” Those ‘free times’ are great opportunities to chat.. and suddenly a group might get involved in the chatter… and build a community.

Talk more: Chat with them about what they find captivating. “The more words put into the bank, the more brain connections a child builds and the bigger their vocabulary becomes.” Even if it’s something you don’t understand or appreciate… and don’t be dismissive of their fascination with watching streams and reaction videos…

Take turns: Make sure you’re both participating in the conversation equally. “Engage in back-and-forth conversation patterns by asking questions that encourage your student to describe what is going on… in the world around them or how they’re feeling,”.

There is certainly more to it, but on Twitter I was seeing a few requests for ‘what it means and how to’ make relationships with students. These three articulate some strategic thoughts and actions I have done to build classroom community/family’s.

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Day 56 (of 2022/23) phones… not so bad…? Shoutouts to @megandelaire & @garydelainey

Day 56 (of 2022/23) phones… not so bad…? Shoutouts to @megandelaire & @garydelainey

Well, at least not the bad things as many felt ought to have been experienced by youth and phones… Stanford report:

And as so often happens, cartoonists Gary Delainey and Gerry Rasmussen provide some unplanned illustrated serendipity…

People like to blame phones for a myriad of focus reduction issues. But as I shared earlier when I read Johann Hari’s Stolen Focus ( ) he has seen that ‘our’ focus has been shifting for awhile… and while convenient to correlate it with the modern phone – though who uses it for calls…? The truth is a bit more complicated… and for those who yearn for the ‘good old days’… need I remind you:

And I appreciate the reminder that creative elements with screens is always ‘better’ than passive consumption. But still, that’s not what is impacting sleep or depressions. No golden rule… no ‘wait until age x’ (unlike alcohol and marijuana for its impacts on developing brains – 20s+) in fact, there was also a bit of a blip that the advance of depression was slower in the sample group that had phones than the other group… didn’t prevent depression (but neither does ‘not having the tool’) And I support the limiting of sedentary screen time for pre-school children, and I like the admission that while zero screen time for those under 2 years old.. there is an exception for video-chats (cuz it’s making the right parts of the brain get engaged.. and make connections)

I like reports like this because it connects with what I have seen in my practice – how the right screens help create community and enhance communication (along with problem solving – both creatively and critically). It’s not that it’s always easy – sometimes it is easy to get distracted… but sometimes the brain needs to get distracted in order to get focused… and the single greatest disrupter to the education system does indeed fit into a pocket.

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Day 55 (of 2022/23) #bcedchat on Sunday night 7pm – Equity and Anti-Racism

Day 55 (of 2022/23) #bcedchat on Sunday night 7pm – Equity and Anti-Racism

Over the decades, I have had to do a mind shift because once upon a time I didn’t like job descriptions that were promoting a persons ethnicity over the rest of the qualifications. Then I came to learn that not everyone had parents like mine who did a good job (which my kids have said we have echoed) on having a ‘why would race matter’ and for many… race does matter – consciously or unconsciously. So that lens needs to be held up as we move forward – and I am looking forward to BC Educator Kenneth Headley a District VP of Equity, Diversity, Antiracism lead a chat looking at this topic this weekend. The questions and my draft responses are below – might change buoy Sunday… come join and find our! 7pm

1. Author and Educator Jo Chrona (adapted from Andrew M. Ibrahim’s work) has shared in her book Wayi Wah! this Antiracism Continuum.  Where are you currently at in your learning Anti-racist Journey? #bcedchat

2. Maya Angelou shared that we must  “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”.  We currently know better, so what do you think is stopping colleagues and educators from fully engaging in this humanistic and transformative work? #bcedchat

3. As School Districts begin this journey for racial equity, what are some of the actions or commitments you would like to see in the terms of  Leadership, staff development, educational opportunities and actionable items? #bcedchat

4. In what ways is your district currently centering voices from the margins as they develop their racial equity objectives, goals and action plans? #bcedchat

5. Name one author, activist, resource, presenter, leader, or community resource that has heavily influenced your Racial Equity and Antiracism Journey?  Please share why? #bcedchat

6. What are some of the collaborative and creative practices you have seen your colleagues engage with when taking on this work? #bcedchat

7. Being this work can be difficult as it is the “heart work”.  How do you recharge? How do you maintain resilience and Self-care when being Antiracist?  How do you find joy?  #bcedchat

8. “Dreams offer a liberatory space to imagine a world once injustices are eradicated and our full humanity is realized” (Neal & Dunn, 2020, p. 60).  If you could create/dream of an Antiracist, equity and justice based school- What would it look, feel, smell, and sound like (Radical Dreaming)- #bcedchat

9. What is one sustainable Anti Racist Action you can commit to and engage with in your practice? #bcedchat?

A1: I am at a place where I am doing more mindful reflecting on what “we” (and me) are doing which systemically blends cultural appropriation with appreciation. While I see more overt displays decreasing… coaching some further growth

A2: I think the tradition of “it was fun” (dressing as X; trying to imagine/play as a Y) from the past that doesn’t enable empathy of what the authentic experience was… the good old days… weren’t

A3: Equity scans are important. Our own reflections of our own judgements and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable at times (retired NFLer Michael Bennet @mosesbread72 has a book about that… Things that Make White People Uncomfortable)

A4: We are looking closer to @shanesafir Street Data to look closer at the data that may not traditionally fit into our data narrative. Not just who aren’t we hearing from, but why…

A5: I’ll shoutout @kennethhedley who has been a great guide to check in with. Others in my #pln have also stepped up in many spaces (thank you @teachermrskhan) and love books like @mosesbread72 Things That Make White People Uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable…

A6: I’ve been enjoying some equity-scan influenced conversations about elements of our system that have particular bias… starting with our “holiday/break schedule” and language usage.

A7: I always enjoy it when learners that have a history of ‘dissatisfaction with school’ feel a connection and find a pathway to learning success… likewise when adults are mindful in why we do what we do (I call it ‘being comfortable in my hypocrisy’)

A8: my dream is when we do not need to add job descriptions that give preference to candidates with a particular background because all communities are well represented in our learning (and leadership) spaces.

A9: call “it” out when I see it. Racist jokes and tropes have no place to further hateful stereotypes. But know that some still need to learn better so they can do better.

I’ve added the link to our wakelet after the Sunday night chat:

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Day 54 (of 2022/23) #tEChursday #tEchanksgiving plans … ‘it’s the season…

Day 54 (of 2022/23) #tEChursday #tEchanksgiving plans … ‘it’s the season…

Another coding stations tour. On the road…err ferry… to do a k-7 grouping. Kinda like a family gathering (13 vaccinated at my moms place in Yuma for a thanksgiving feast) you never know what’s going to happen.. so I listened politely as I got some heads ups about a couple of students, but… I trust the process of this introduction to coding mindsets.

And another success – ‘best day’ was the share… but there are always underlying plots and plans… I took the students so the teachers could get some coaching for upcoming reports to families. And because it’s a bit of a remote school, a bit more time for a Q&A cuz the “hour of code” can always go longer than an hour…

And it provides me with information. December is going to feel long this year as our last day is Friday the 23rd… so I will be promoting the activities to our district librarians for share with teachers. And some targeted activities and lessons. Some seasonal themed games… an introduction to esports via a tournament… and for the remote school – one class needs to do some scratch based on their interests in the stations connected to game coding and another class needs a Minecraft unit… and since it wouldn’t be easy for them to come to a tournament… I think it could be fun to come back out and do a couple of tournaments at the same time for a day leading into winter vacation (hopefully tying in with a setup of a digital sandbox the community is getting set up…)

I am giving this thanks to the support and encouragement I am getting from adults and learners as I tweak how tech influences and supports the learning agenda. If it’s not about Learning… why do it? Now to make a turkey sandwich as an homage to my American family having a bigger feast.

Expect some shares each T(hursday) in December!oh – that’s next week! Here’s a sample – a coding puzzle tree decoration: (my fastest this season is 149)

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Day 53 (of 2022/23) copyright vs canada in schools #worldcup2022 @tsn_sports @cop_eng okay for today? Ooh and a @cbckids @abigail_dove10 shoutout

Day 53 (of 2022/23) copyright vs canada in #worldcup2022 @tsn_sports @cop_eng okay for today? Ooh and a @cbckids @abigail_dove10 shoutout

I’ve been thinking about copyright (kinda have to in my new role) and how I have had to give reminders that while we are licensed for showing physical copies of media, and streaming from the site where we get our license from… streaming services in Canada do not have broadcast privileges in Canadian schools with some exceptions around documentaries…

And today canada makes its long long anticipated return to the World Cup… and game 1 is set just before most lunch blocks. But streaming services are currently only approved for individual use… not a broadcast….

But I know we will see many posts and shares of groups, classes, schools assembling to do just that… eg

Just know that I won’t be monitoring our school sites tomorrow… nor will I be providing tech support (unless tsn/copyright board say ‘go for it’) for classes or schools to infringe on copyright… though to be honest, I’d probably take the chance and show it in my school/class…

Sigh. But as a positive, let’s help @cbckids and @abigail_dove10 share some background on the beautiful game – and share your thinking at: (yes, you can share this video in classrooms/schools) cuz North America will be hosting soon… rainbows welcome…

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