Thursday, 14 November 2013

TCH: Org Chart

Pic by Errol of Debs and Errol
Intro: Back in September, I signed up for "Explore MTBoS", an eight week event connecting math educators online. This is the sixth post connected to that event. If this is your first time on my blog, welcome! For the record, I post about writing in addition to math teaching. I also have a second blog, "Taylor's Polynomials", a story about personified math. Find it here:

This week's mission I think came from Justin Lanier (@j_lanier). It asked us to consider organizing the resources we're finding, and decide what habits we want to establish.


KEY POINT: I'm not keen on feed readers. I think they're cliquey and a source of unwanted stress as you try to keep up. Nor do I always want to sample the SAME people in the teacher population, I want to cross section that up and allow new people in. How do I do that without becoming overwhelmed? By not creating a blog list in the first place. Christopher Danielson has also spoken about the subject of blogrolls.

A fixed list of endlessly replenishing blog posts.
What could go wrong?

Then again, nothing is ever quite so black and white! Doesn't work for me, may work for you, particularly if you're new at teaching. Moreover, I actually DO have a short list - Blogger allows you to track a select number of blogs, and I have a half dozen on there. They don't tell me what I've read or what I haven't, but if I happen to be making my own post and I see something cool, I click. (If you're curious, this "elite" group includes the likes of Michael Pershan and Tina Cardone. Why? Because their stuff often resonates with me.)


I rarely actively search on topics (outside of my web serial), but if I stumble on a post or tweet, and it resonates, I'll comment. That way I'm pretty sure to remember it. You think you'll get back to comment later? You won't. Do it now. Put it into your longer term memory. Then it will end up in a later lesson.

We get incorporated too. We have seniority.
Alternatively, if the timing is right, I'll incorporate something I see in a post immediately. Otherwise? It likely doesn't get used. But I'm okay with that. It helps that I work in a very supportive department - the MTBoS is a bonus, not a lifeline.

Now, if something strikes me, and I mean really, truly strikes me, and I WANT it, and I DON'T think my semi photographic memory will retain it.... I'll slap it with a Twitter Favourite. I favourite MAYBE three tweets per month. That's my bank. Of course, half of it's for my web serial, a few are for fun, and I often forget to go back to check it more than once a month anyway.

In desperation, if you really need something you saw a couple months ago, there's always the tweet out request for "anyone remember...?". From Lisa Henry's "Infinite Tangents" podcast and general research, I'd say 3pm to 5pm local time is generally a good time to tweet requests, or blog posts. Also here's "The Scientific Guide to Writing Great Headlines" - pulled from my Twitter Favourites, @loveofscience.


Ha! I'm so freaking organized I can probably tell you what topic I'll be teaching a week from Tuesday. Now, do I know exactly how? Nope. In fact my plan might even change, but then it's more like redirecting the flow of a river, as opposed to being lost at sea. Heck, other people in my department have taught using my binders. Of course, I've been doing this teaching thing for a while.

Now, also referenced in the "Explore" post was the "Devise a Plan to Organize" session at TMC. Hey, I was there! Biggest takeaway? You have to figure out what works for YOU. I think what works for me is utter randomness within a tightly scaffolded framework. Main problem with it is... well, you have NO idea how thrown off I am if someone proposes a last minute change to that framework. (In other words, I can totally roll with random student diversions, but suddenly there's a fire drill? Gah!)

As far as habits go, the only thing I think I really need to work on is my marking; I'm getting better at it, but it's still taking me a while, and I put parts of it off for far too long. But that's not really connected to online organization - except maybe I'm spending too much time online, not enough on work.

FYI: The little keyboard is a calculator
You know what? In the end, if you're happy with your system, then assume you're doing it right. Unless someone explicitly says how you're doing it wrong AND can offer something better. Also, for the record, my desk? Total mess. But it's an organized mess, I knew in which stack I have a 90% chance of finding the sheet I want.

So... yeah, I think we're done here. Calling the next week of "Explore MTBoS" now, by the way: Day in the Life. My semi photographic memory recalls a statement in Week 3 that it would be one of the weeks, and they can't save it until last, otherwise we'll know THAT'S when it'll be, so the only way they can keep us guessing is to have it next week. Also, last year DITLife ran the week after Remembrance Day, so consistency.

Flawless logic. Trust me, I'm that organized.


  1. Great advice! I especially like the recommendation to comment on a blog post that resonates with you. You're right--it will make me remember it better. And I never thought to use Twitter Favorites as another way to remember something. Thanks!

    1. Thank you - glad the ideas are of help! As to the Favourites, I know I'm not the only one who does that, though for me I guess it helps to give that area more of a purpose beyond a generic "like".

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on not having a blogroll and for the good suggestions (leave a comment, favorite a tweet, timing tweet requests). As always, I enjoyed your post!

    1. Thanks for letting me know they're actually good suggestions! I try to make sense as well as be entertaining.