There’s something about summer.  As a child, it had endless possibilities.  As a teen, there began the anxiety of planning for the coming school year. And as a teacher, this anxiety combined with excitement, beginning with the first “Back to School” ads at the end of July.

This is my first year since I was five that I am not returning to school in September. I will be teaching one day per week at Ontario Tech University, but the rest of the time will be my “dissertation time”, as it has been for months now.

You’d think that this would mean I am able to get so much done!  But that is not the case. Each day takes me back to my childhood, and the endless possibilities present much more compelling options than coding interviews in Nvivo, or drafting my literature review.

There’s also the “how are you enjoying retirement?” questions, with an expectation that I have been filling my days with all those things that I couldn’t do as a teacher or administrator. This would be easy to answer if I actually had things on my “bucket list” that I hadn’t already tackled.  But, every summer since I can remember, I have used my summer vacation to make music, quilt, catch up with friends, and relax my calendar- and clock-watching.  This has built a habit of play during the summer months, a habit that is not serving me well at all. This year I have a dissertation to write, and it doesn’t have the real deadline that the return to school served for me in past years.

So, despite being retired, and no longer having to prep for the new school year, I am actually getting less accomplished than I did when working full time. I think I need to add some structure, through goals and a routine.

Here are my goals for the next month, to be ready for September:

  1. Complete the “in vivo” coding of my 26 interviews.
  2. Ensure that I am truly using the language used by the teachers I interviewed to develop my themes. (Not just those that I have read in my literature review, and been talking about on Twitter.)
  3. Try out “in vivo” coding of my literature, looking for connections to the language that emerges from my interviews.

If I can get this far in the next five weeks, then I should really be able to begin writing in September, when I am hoping that my goals will align with the world around me as everyone heads back home from the cottage, and back to school.

Do you have any advice for me, to help wean me away from the self-regulation support that working in a school provided?  Message me @terrywhitmell or!

#IMMOOC -Information Overload

Just signed up for George Couros’ Innovators’ Mindset MOOC, beginning September 17th.

The first day of school 2016

And I begin my fourth course towards my Ed.D. at OISE on September 15th. And I’m chairing our school board’s association of secondary Principals.  And, of course, I’m busy keeping my own community of educators on track at Brampton Centennial SS.

I’ll certainly be practicing some of the learning skills we develop with our teens, and Self Regulation is going to be at the top of that list.

One of the challenges our teenagers face is information management, and so this will be a good exercise that will inform our work.  Will I be able to manage my time, my emails, two Twitter accounts (@terrywhitmell and @bcssbucks), Facebook, this blog, and still complete the reading, writing, and Blackboard discussions for my Ed.D. course?

Here are my strategies:

  1. Use my calendar to block out dedicated time for key activities, especially those that involve my students and staff.
  2. Balance this with scheduled time with my new grandson, my children, and my husband.
  3. Look for connections between my doctoral program, my staff PD, the #IMMOOC.
  4. And always put people first.  I can always read or browse online during those sleepless hours in the middle of the night when my brain takes over!

It’s going to be an exciting Fall.  I have tickets to see Elton John, Red Green, and Gordon Lightfoot, and I know that will inspire me to enjoy my time at the piano as well, as a break from all this attention to screen and print.

Looking forward to learning!