[Update: I actually have taught my LSA 1 now and have notes at the end]
I missed posting last week for a few reasons. The main one was that I wanted to focus on getting my first background essay finished after I got feedback on my first draft. On a sidenote, I’ve noticed that the weeks I had been writing didn’t accurately match the records on the course guidelines. As such I’m changing my records to accurately reflect them. This should help me acknowledge where I am in the course and help you if you are looking to follow a similar pace with your course. As such this is really the start of week 4 of the course (after an orientation week). I’m submitting my first background essay today and I have my observed lesson on Wednesday. Here’s a bit of an update on a few things.
Time tracking and Pomodoros
I’ve been tracking the time I spend working on my DELTA via Toggl. I actually started time tracking before I started doing my DELTA as I was interested in how long I actually spent planning lessons as opposed to what I thought was the case (turns out my predictions are really inaccurate). The real benefit has been in Doing my DELTA work as it’s an easy way to show how much I’ve been working and appreciate slower and more hectic days.
For the record, over the weekend I spent 14 hours working on my DELTA and another Ten hours during the week. That’s a bit more than the 10 hours that the DELTA course estimates.
I’ll admit that I haven’t worked the most efficiently plus you have to factor in the “Pomodoro technique” a bit. That is the system I use of working for 25 minutes, then having a five minute break (repeating for five times and then taking a fifteen minute break instead of five). So there should be some five minute breaks in there too.
I’m hoping that next time I’ll need less time for my Background essay and lesson plan as I get more use to them. Speaking of which…
I made some classic mistakes with my Background essay first draft. So much so that I had to basically completely rewrite it. Mostly this involved not being specific enough, not referencing my experience and learners and not going into enough depth on a few points. I’d really recommend thoroughly reading your tutors notes on the background essays so you don’t make these mistakes.
I find these essays to be this curious mix of being more depth than your very simple explanation of an idea but you can’t go into real depth. It’s that awkward Goldilocks balance. Overall, it’s been great diving deep into a single topic and reading a lot on it. I’m really glad that I’ve had this impetus to do more study and reading on topics. It does make me think about doing further study afterwards….but first DELTA.
Background essay format
One important thing to note is the need for background essays to be in .docx formats. Stupid windows monopoly! While many tools can export to windows format, they don’t always export correctly and most infuriating of all, Word on the iPad exports as open office BUT if you save a copy it is a word document. SO if you want to send a copy, you have to save a copy and then find that file (on say dropbox) THEN send it. If you click export and then email it, it will be open office (and unsuitable).
I’ve also had some issues with adding some PDFs, images and so on to the file as appendices. This is one of the last things I need to make sure I get right.
DEVONthink to go has been really handy for me. The fact that it OCR scans your documents so you can easily search through PDFs and find a section relevant to you. Then there are the other tools like marking up documents and the nice reading environment. I haven’t found a way to add bookmarks though which is a bit of a shame.
An Updated Workplan
One of the most frustrating things has been noticing that with the correction of dates for my workplan AND the realisation that both writing and getting feedback on the background essays takes more time than I though, I now have to change a few of my activities quite a bit. In particular, week 10 is now our week off (previously it was week 11) which means that I can’t be observed that week as there will be no classes. Plus cramming the experimental practice and a lesson so soon after wasn’t a wise idea. So I’m adjusting things but I don’t have a clear answer.
Smart lightbulb fun
On a very different note, last week I picked up some Hue lightbulbs for my house and had great fun setting them up, playing with different light settings and using IFTTT to activate them when the sun goes down. This is ever so slightly related to my DELTA as the “relax” light setting has really helped my writing environment to help me rest my eyes and stayed focus. However, I found the energise setting to make me feel nervous, stressed and aggressive if I used it for too long. I think it just goes to show how important your work environment can be on you.
Over the next couple of days I’m applying the finishing touches on my Background essay (proof reading it AGAIN, this time with a print out) and my lesson plan. Attaching all the extras, teaching my first LSA and then getting reading for the next one. I’ll be honest, I am feeling a bit under time pressure now and I’m worried about getting everything done on time. It’s taken me longer to get these background essays done and I’m still uncertain whether this will hit the right notes. Still, there comes a point to “ship” and see what happens.
After LSA 1
Well I never hit publish on this post at the start of the week. I was too busy concentrating on getting all my stuff together and preparing for the actual lesson. I have finished my post lesson reflection notes but I haven’t had my sit down chat or received feedback on my background essay.
My suspicion is that the essay will fail and the lesson…may pass. I saw that as I did feel clear over what would make a good background essay the whole time I was writing mine and by the end, I felt I did have a good picture of what would make a good background essay, but I had gone down a wrong path too long ago. (For example, I started planning the lesson before I really took on the background essay. That informed my background essay too much rather than vice versa).
My self-criticisms of my lesson mostly come down to minor points where as I feel the lesson aim was well achieved and I even implemented some of my development goals as well. However, I guess I’ll have to wait till I get my post lesson evaluation and grade for the background essay.
I feel ridiculously relaxed right now after a build up of stress till Wednesday but I know I have to get started on the next LSA now. In fact, I was interrupted while writing to be informed about two non Delta related observations that I’m having next week and lesson plans that I need to write. I guess that’s my little free time I had planned gone. I better get back to the grind stone.