Choosing a #LearningProject

In our #tiegrad course with Alec Couros, we’ve been given the opportunity to choose any topic we’d like to study as a personal learning project. I blogged previously a bit about that here. I settled on the Learning Project fairly quickly, but had a great deal of difficulty settling on a topic. I made a huge web in my classroom and worked my way through my passions, needs, interests, and questions in a similar way that I usually ask my students to explore as they select their #geniushour projects. My whole class got involved! They were so excited to help me choose something, and it was humbling to hear some of their ideas. For example, I KNOW that I struggle to throw a ball well in softball, but it’s a little embarrassing to have a student point it out as an important skill I should spend 50-100 hours developing!

My brainstorming web. My students' ideas are in orange, my ideas/my husband's ideas are in blue.

My brainstorming web. My students’ ideas are in orange, my ideas/my husband’s ideas are in blue.

In the end, only the ideas that I was truly passionate about and genuinely interested in pursuing made it onto my web. My ideas were written in blue, and my students’ suggestions were written in orange. I clustered my ideas around some central themes: Music, Technology, Art, Languages, Zen, etc. I was surprised to see myself so drawn to music and art. I have always loved music and envy people who are able to bring such beauty through sound. I do not have a lot of skill in the area of art, and struggle to make myself understood through images. I am grateful to teach Middle School, as the students laugh at my stick figure drawings and support my efforts to draw straight lines.

My top contenders for Learning Projects may surprise you:

  1. Guitar: I have access to guitars, Bryan Jackson was offering Beginner Guitar a sessional as part of his class, it seems like a great opportunity to learn. I live near a beach. Can’t you just see me out there practicing at sunset, illegal beach fire keeping me warm, gathering a small but appreciative crowd?
  2. Singing: When I sing, people run away. Maybe these are unrelated events, but I am becoming suspicious. I love to sing, but I am pretty terrible at it. I love listening to amazing singers, and am drawn to stories told through song. The downside with this is that I believe that it will take more professional intervention and possibly way more than 50-100 hours to teach me how to sing.
  3. Speaking Spanish: my husband can speak it, I’ve tried to learn in the past, and there are MANY resources for learning foreign languages online. Huge benefit! I can’t wait to go back to Cuba, and actually have a few words in my vocabulary.
  4. Piano: I would love to know how to play. Again, lots of helpful online resources, but I think that actually having a piano or keyboard would be essential.
  5. Meditation: I have done some Yoga in the past, but only used it really for strengthening and lengthening my muscles, I always feel energized after doing it, not relaxed. I need help to calm my mind, and meditation has been suggested to me frequently!

In considering which topic to explore further, I knew that I needed to narrow my list into things that:

  • Were actually manageable
  • Would serve me immediately
  • Bring me joy
  • Have resources available
  • Would suit learning publicly

Drumroll please….

I selected meditation.

I have never been a good sleeper. Even from my first, fresh days home from the hospital, I kept everyone awake. I still do. Comparing Fitbit stats with my friend today, we compared our restless “Sleep” minutes over the last month. She averaged between 9-16 minutes of restlessness. I averaged between 140-190 minutes of restlessness each night.

My mind is always working. I worry. I fret. I practice conversations – that never actually happen. I find “being in the moment” a challenge. I don’t listen well. I move quickly, think quickly and rush around constantly.

My goals: Slow down. Be mindful. Meditate. Be present. Be still. Develop my own self-regulatory skillset. Listen.

And above all: Breathe.

 

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