Sunday, 27 September 2015

Habitica's Back to School Advice Challenge

My back to school challenge addresses a group that's often forgotten about in these lists of things to do: the humble chalkie. Yes, some of the more generic lists and how to tips can apply to us, but not everything translates across perfectly when you're the one up the front out-numbered.

Selective Gamification
People often talk about life-long learning, making education fun and self-motivated, but rain down ire if you're not intently focused on each special snowflake's intrinsic needs every moment. The huge cachet of respect and the massive pay packet we educators get is meant to cancel out our need for fun and self-motivation.

In this regard, gamification can be a blessing and a curse. Long ago I went through and changed all my tasks into gamified ones, but soon saw the error of my ways. I would recommend leaving some obviously work related activities in their natural state, prominently displayed up the top (or use the tagging system meticulously on them) so you can demonstrate that no, really, Habitica IS a productivity website. Perfect obvious examples are taking the roll, marking homework, organising daily jobs like choosing a line leader etc. I rarely gamify my To-Dos since they are so ephemeral, and generally push the school based ones to the top as well.

OK, so the fully focused one is semi-gamified

I also have some school based activities gamified but with no reminder note for plausible deniability - such as holding off the zombie horde (being at staff meetings on time), slaying the giant (handing in my lesson plans by the due date), plucking the harpy (dealing with that parent). These have a separate, gamified tag, so that at the end of the day I can tick off those as appropriate.

Another tag group I have is Yesterdailies. These are not merely school related (depending on your dedication and how much marking you take home it may be more useful for you), but there are some that are linked to my productiveness at school and could end up being self-defeating if I did them that day, such as being in bed by 10 and shutting off all electronic devices before that. I mark them off retroactively, talking about yesterday, not today.

Checkboxes for weeklies
You probably have a spread of subjects, grade levels or both. A grey checkbox daily that falls due on a Friday (though if you're running more than one of these for something, I would have them fall due on different days so you're not run ragged by perfectionist tendencies if you have them) is a good way of keeping track of them all across the board. These help to make sure that no area is being neglected because of a more enjoyable focus elsewhere. If you abhor marking and paperwork like I do, then a Meta one is a good way to make sure that all facets are being covered.

One student isn't much, but it's a baby step

A meta one so I don't fall too far behind in any one area

Double dipping
If you need extra carroting for something (like I do with marking), there's nothing wrong with motivating yourself using both a habit and a daily for it, or even a graduated daily. I make sure to strip the streaks off graduated dailies if I just did a tokenstic amount, otherwise I'll think I'm keeping up with everything when it's really not the case. I have a generic catch-all for annoying paperwork. For those "important" bits that are due weekly, they have an individual daily that lights up on the day it is due, but you better believe I also click on the generic habit as well.

Some days I am hammering on that daily like a rat in a Skinner Box

Banked To-Do's
I'm hoping that your school is less of a cowboy operation than mine, so maybe you won't need this one. Often at work I get blindsided suddenly by things that need to be done right now, whether that'd be new paperwork (needed yesterday), or my students haven't grasped what should have been a simple concept and I have to scramble to make resources to support them. Many of these things tend to be complicated and stressful, so to make sure that the payout is commensurate with the work put in, I have a couple of spare To-Dos that are a ripe, rich dark red. Instead of making a new To-Do and ticking it off instantly (which only gives a minimal amount of XP and gold), these elder ones help to adequately compensate for the running around with my hair on fire that is situation normal here.

Because I deserve it

Clickable tags
This isn't just related to school work, but that is the main time I take advantage of this. Each of my tags has a perma grey daily which I click on when it has been a hectic, over the top day for it  End of school concert, parent teacher meetings, sports days, marking semester exams, all those sort of things qualify. It also acts as a header, with most of the dailies or habits for that tag filed directly underneath it.

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