Sunday, March 25, 2018

Walking the Walk

I am sitting here at the close of a glorious weekend watching the pale blue sky turn cotton-candy pink at the horizon that peeps from behind the naked maple, walnut, and poplar trees on the far bank. I am fortunate enough to be able to sit on my living room sofa with rippling water within view. It calms me.

Because my partner and I both work hard during the week, we try always to guard our weekend together time. It's not an easy thing for me to stop thinking about projects and deadlines in order to be with him in a mindful way. It takes discipline and a certain amount of self-talk using that inner parent voice.

Were I not in a relationship, I could easily spend my entire weekend alone--ping-ponging from chore to chore, absentmindedly picking up where an earlier job was left off, then remembering the one I'd abandoned to do that one. John Sivell says I have a Type A personality--unable to sit still, always nursing several projects. I did not believe him until last summer's major abdominal surgery forced me to lie still for large portions of each day. Now I notice that about myself.

The good news is that in the past week or two a previous brain fog--probably resulting from hormonal extremes--has lifted. Suddenly ideas are popping into my head at all hours. Do I have too many irons in the fire? Let's see...

The Classy Graphics course with Tony Vincent came to an end this past Tuesday. Wow, that was a steep learning curve! I have a ring light and green screen en route to my house this week. I don't know if I'll ever be good at making videos, but I will give it the old college try.

I promised myself that no matter what else came up this weekend, I would spend at least two hours on my slides and script for my two upcoming presentations, one for ATESL and another for the TESL London spring conference. I'm pleased to say that ideas for how to better communicate the concepts are surfacing in my mind like bubbles from the murky bottom of a lake. The ideas came fast and furiously this morning before I had even thrown back the covers. I had to spring from the bed in search of a pen and a ripped open, discarded envelope in partner's mail pile. (Stacks of opened and unopened mail are guests of honour in his apartment; they get their own chair.) I'm feeling good about this iteration of the old Back to the Well workshop. It is evolving and is about to undergo a growth spurt, I think.

Then there's my Sunday blog post. Right up until about 2:00 p.m. today I had thought I would be posting a video for you tonight. At some point, though, I realized I had to make some choices; I couldn't have it all. I could make the video and do the subject justice. I might or might not finish it before bedtime, but in either case I would have to postpone grocery shopping until Monday. I could do the grocery shopping (a non-negotiable if I'm going to eat in a healthy way all week) and give the video a lick and a promise. Or I could take good care of myself, accept the fact that the video would be late, and post something else here tonight instead.

By now you know which path I chose.

Once I had taken a deep breath and accepted the fact that I wasn't going to make this self-imposed (and promised to others) deadline, I relaxed and took my time with the week's worth of groceries. A couple of items I had to go get myself, the rest of it I allowed the Click and Collect staff to get ready for me to drive through and have deposited into my waiting trunk. Gosh, I like that service. Discovered it when participation in the Fast Metabolism Diet had me completely overwhelmed with continual meal prep. But I digress. Let's digress some more. For the couple of items St. Clair Beach Zehrs did not have, I popped into my local Zehrs and felt the universe tugging me toward Value Village. I don't usually scan the book section but thought I'd look over the diet and cookbooks. My eyes landed on a nearly new copy of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook by Stahl and Goldstein. The CD was still attached to the inside back cover. I nabbed it.

Before sitting down to eat my dinner, I took a peek inside my new book. I thought these words from the foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn were worth sharing with you tonight: "Mindfulness involves an elemental and spontaneous openness to experience, grounded in the body, in the timeless, in not expecting anything to happen, a befriending and inhabiting of this present moment for its own sake."

Deep breath. The video will be late.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Joy of ESL's 2nd (not quite annual) Prize Draw!

Hey, everyone!

If you look at the area just under my blog banner, you can see that after four years of blogging, I'm just now branching out onto a few more social media platforms. I don't really know what I'm doing, but discovering together is fun, isn't it?

I now have a YouTube channel and a Facebook page in addition to the website, blog, Twitter account and Instagram account I already had. Oh, and there's the monthly newsletter round-up of what I wrote about, linked to, or gave away on the blog or on Twitter during the month prior.

The picture below is from the new FB page.

This is my YouTube channel. Some of the videos there simply fulfil homework assignments for my Classy Videos online course.

In order to encourage folks to subscribe or follow, I'm holding a draw for a $100 CAD gift card to Chapters Indigo or Amazon, winner's choice. For each of the following actions that you carry out and report back here in the comments during March, I will put your name one time in the hat.
  • subscribe to my newsletter (for those who are already subscribed, get a friend to subscribe)
  • start following me on Instagram
  • subscribe to my YouTube channel
  • like my Facebook page and leave a comment that responds to the top post (a question)
  • find and report a broken link, typo, spelling error or grammatical error on my blog or website
So if you do three of these things and report back, that's three chances to win. I'll use an online tool such as WheelDecide to choose the winner at the end of March. I might even figure out how to spin the wheel on Facebook live!

Good luck and thanks for playing along. Happy spring (soon, very soon)!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

My (Current) Perspective on the Experiment

Okay! The results of my blog reader need assessment revealed that updates from the you-know-what battlefield are the most popular topic. Your wish is my command.
Once again, opinions expressed here are mine alone and do not in any way represent those of my employer.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Growth Spurt

Looking over my posts from February in order to prepare the end-of-month summary newsletter, I noticed that I have not been creating very much. There was only one freebie that month. NB: If you subscribe to the newsletter, you know about all the freebies, even ones I only announce on Twitter but do not blog about. One week in February, I listened instead of talking.

You might think this lull means that things are slowing down here at Joy of ESL, but actually this is just the fallow time before the growing season. I am currently taking another of Tony Vincent's online classes, and this one is a doozy. The course is called Classy Videos. I am hoping to learn how to create good videos--both for ESL students and for my fellow teachers. Last week's assignment was to practice good narration. Here is what I created for that.

The assignment for this week is to create a tutorial video. The intended audience is YOU. I hope I can realize my vision and that it proves valuable to someone somewhere. Stay tuned for the addition of a Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Because the course is cognitively taxing and time-consuming, you can expect things to remain a bit low-key here on the blog for a few more weeks.

Here are the results of the survey so far:

What do readers value most in an activity pack?
  1. Lots of images
  2. Picture-word matching activity
  3. Spelling activity
  4. Cloze or gap-fill
  5. Sentence unscramble
  6. Peer survey or dialogue (zero votes)
Which types of blog posts do readers find most engaging?
  1. Updates from the PBLA battlefield
  2. Links to others' ideas
  3. Personal stories
  4. Classroom techniques
  5. Announcements of freebies
Finally, I looked at reasons why someone might not subscribe to the newsletter. One reader said s/he reads the blog weekly and therefore does not need a summary. I should mention that some links to others' tools / ideas and some freebies do not get mentioned on the blog. However, if you are on Twitter, you will probably catch them there. Once I get the Facebook page up and running, everything will be there, too.

What are you up to these days? Is spring finally arriving in your neck of the woods?