Sunday, June 5, 2016

Look at that! A Clean Room

Last day of school was June 3rd - and I spent most of my time trying to keep these two groups of girls from "throwing down", two minutes before the final bell rang - total fistfight in the hallway. I know I'm going to miss those 12 year-olds but it'll be a few weeks.

Saturday I cleaned out my car (while nursing a fantastic hangover) and brought most of the classroom stuff I can't store at school into my 900 square foot apartment. I realize this is a pretty long by blog standards but I've been thinking about these things for the past week and need it to set my stage.

The BEFORE pictures

As you can tell, we are already using the side room for storage (can't wait for the crazy Denver housing market to calm down so we can make a reasonable offer on a home). Like most Americans this space has multiple uses - the cat's litter box and food, craft room, exercise room, entertainment room (meaning I watch Netflix in here on the computer since we don't own a television), book room, and storage. But this summer I need the space to also be my study.

Now you may be thinking, what does a messy room have to do with intrinsic motivation? That is after all what I would like to focus on for this class and this blog is suppose to reflect that. So let's take a second to talk about the crazy, mixed-up files, that make up my thought process.

"Flow" is the feeling we have when we engage in an activity that is meaningful to us. To master new skills we need to set goals and monitor progress. To do any of that we must have a system we use consistently. Intrusic motivation comes from wanting to do something for our own rewards (this contributes back to Flow).

How we launch our goals is very important. Not everyone has to have a clean work surface, anymore than everyone does well when they use a filing system. It's probably one of the first things a person needs to know about themselves. What is the best way to get started? For me that is flat surfaces to organize my piles on. Over the last few years as I've really put effort into goal setting I have found my organization style is "matryoshka" like. Meaning I will put things in boxes and forget about them until I'm ready to do something, Then everything comes out and gets sorted into piles.

I've moved a lot in the last few years and my boxes of mementos or collected papers from school have taken on more and more storage in my life. The last two years I have made going through these boxes a goal. As of right now there are four boxes of sewing projects under the bed and two big boxes of mementos waiting to be scrapbooked. But all of my newspaper clippings, notes from books I've read, recipes I want to try out, travel information and other such notes and collected paperwork are all on the desk right now. My binders stand at the ready to be filled and that was one project I was going to tackle this summer before deciding to finish my Masters.

Of course now I'm thinking I can work on accomplishing my personal goals and just share how research and reading have helped me better develop systems and routines that make accomplishing my goals easier. So let's take a look at my "hot spots", my piles that are now organized and ready to me tackled this summer.

The stack of paper to the left use to take up the whole space, meaning I had four stacks of random papers I had been collecting since 2009. Puzzle boxes make awesome storage for paper by the way, and my four boxes are used for 1) important papers like finance or student loans that need to be files 2) recipes 3) travel ideas 4) scrapbooking. Down in the right corner you see another box which holds things I need to do something with, a Christmas gift photo album I need to put pictures in, notecards I need to write, etc. I now have to hanging file folders the top one containing important information on things I need to accomplish this month. There's also the big brown box to the extreem left that has mementos I have collected over the last 10 months that need to be sorted or added to my journal (this journal by the way is awesome and we will be talking more about that too.

Over on the other desk you've got the binders - here's what all those pages are getting sorted into. There's a binder for the academic papers from college so I can reference their research. There are actually a few binders for school stuff, a collection of worksheets, detailed lesson plans, student examples. There's also a few binders with book exerpts - y'know when you read something and you think of I may need to cite this source in the future because this really makes me think about this other important thing? No? Just me? Okay. To the right you will also see a stack of books, these are my "second teir" reading material for the summer. There's a lot here for lesson plans or units that I just need to set time aside to go through and make plans for, compared to some other piles of books ;)

For example I have been stacking books for the past 10 months that people have recommended to me - I organized this pile into three different stacks. So this big pile was waiting for me to read it but summer break is only 8 weeks and now I'm working on my class so there is no resonable expectation that I be able to read all this.

So I sorted them into three stacks, well two stacks and then the others went back on the bookshelf. (The books in the front are already read they're just waiting to get returned to the library or the classroom bookshelf) but the bigger stack in the back is my plan for the summer, read these books. The teacher books are the priority but the Lord of the Rings on the bottom are for the evenings when I need a little escapism.

Now that I've really muddled the water let me try to explain. This stack is my goal for the summer, some I will get read and others I will abandon for good. The other stack on the desk can be skimmed and organized for the school year. And then more than half the books went back to be unpacked again later. Matryoshka like, right!


I'm going to assume you have tried to help students set goals for themselves. Studies show that when we invest in setting our own goals we are more likely to attain them but it's a lot more complicated then just saying to want to learn to skateboard or read 100 books this year. You have to make a plan or you might never get past the wanting phase. Have you ever used the SMART goals method?

When it comes to my reading goals I have almost always been very specific. Starting with my first goal when I was 12 years old to read a book every four days that was at least 100 pages long. My specific goal this summer is to read those books in that pile. I will know I was successful when they are read or I've attempted to read them and have determined the book isn't for me and I give it away (no longer in the pile). Achievable is often the hardest part of this process because we often don't know if it is too big or too small until we get into the monitoring part but on average I read a little more than a book a week so 8-10 books in an 8-week time frame may be doable. The goal is relevant because these are books I either want to read for pleasure or for my career. And as I've stated my time frame is 8 weeks.

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