In a grand tradition here at Byrdseed, I like to look back on the calendar year and reflect on what I’ve done for the past 12 months. And reflecting also helps me to focus on what I want to do next year.
Of course, 2018’s highlight was the birth of our son Henry. His birth was scary and unexpectedly complicated. Nine months later, though, he is thriving (and Mary’s doing great too!). We are profoundly grateful to the hospital staff for their expert care.
Thank you to those who went out of your way to send gifts and thoughtful notes. Some of you even got to see him in the (pudgy) flesh in Minneapolis or Fort Worth. He’s been fantastic on planes, which is a relief to Mary and I since we love to travel.
Of course, having Henry has brought a great focus to my life and is helping me to be more thoughtful before I say “yes” to a commitment.
In 2018, I was part of 32 education events in 9 states: California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, and Washington. Oklahoma was a new state for me, both professionally and personally. Yay!
Here’s my updated map:
Despite taking some time off for Henry, I still flew 85,000 miles!
Gifted Guild Gatherings
Three of 2018’s events were Gifted Guild Gatherings put on by Lisa Van Gemert and myself. Super-friend Brian Housand filled in at the last second for me at one event due to the surprise birth of Henry!
We’ll be putting on three more Gatherings in March 2019. More info here.
Lisa, Brian, and I combined to put on a special Gathering called Rejected! in Minneapolis. The national gifted conference turned down several of our best submissions (again) so we rented our own venue, sold out 100 seats, gave our talks, and had an absolute blast. Thank you so much to those who were a part of this. This was a raucous evening that I will always treasure!
The best part was receiving this “Troublemaker” badge from Shirley!
Here at Byrdseed.com, I published 38 new articles (which you can find here). That’s fewer than usual, but still within my goal of 3 per month. The most popular pieces were:
- Three Images To Explain Giftedness To Parents
- Where Do I Even Start?
- Thinking or Remembering: Divergent Questions
- Thinking or Remembering?
- Curiosity 1: Anticipation and Dopamine
A favorite of mine that didn’t make the Top 5 is: What Textbooks Think Differentiation Looks Like.
The weekly Puzzlements mailer continues to be the project that gets the most interesting feedback. I love hearing what ya’ll do with these links!
I also battled with several district IT dudes who are bad at their jobs and block the Puzzlement emails and links.
Byrdseed.TV, my video subscription site, has been an ongoing project since I left the classroom in 2012. This year I built out 40 new videos covering a variety of content, from specific math standards to brain-twisting enrichment.
I also began adding other projects, like my grammar concept attainment lessons, idioms, math curiosities, and paper/pencil games to Byrdseed.TV’s growing library.
Byrdseed.TV is my main focus for 2019. I’m so excited to clear time away to work on it every day. If you’d like to become a member, you can sign up for the waitlist at Byrdseed.TV. The next enrollment window opens in January.
This image from the book Essentialism rocked my world. Both sets of arrows represent the same energy, but only one use of that energy really makes an impact.
I found myself maintaining too many things for a one-guy company to do well (especially with a baby) and decided to do some strategic pruning. I’ve actually written about this before in Creating A “Don’t Do” List.
Byrdseed.TV is my long arrow and that means short arrows have to go away.
- I closed my Shopify store and began moving those resources into the Byrdseed.TV library. That’ll be the one-stop-shop for all of my paid resources.
- In the same vein, Lisa and I closed new signups to our Gifted Guild courses (although we will still be offering the live events in 2019).
- I’ve set rules about travel: only two-trips-per-month, no events that require me to be gone more than one night, no events that don’t have clear expectations for attendees.
- I put social media on hold after Henry was born. I’ve really enjoyed this and was surprised by what a relief I felt to not have to maintain a bunch of extra feeds. I’ll still use Twitter for announcements.
- Mary and I even quit Netflix and instead started renting physical movies from Movie Madness, a fantastic video store here in Portland. We’ve loved purposefully picking one film each rather than scrolling through Netflix’s endless library that never quite had what we wanted.
Leaving social media freed up bits of free time which I tried to fill with reading books! By my best count, I finished 45 books in 2018. Five favorites were:
- Essentialism – Already mentioned above, this is a book about doing fewer things well. It’s been transformative both professionally and personally.
- Good Strategy, Bad Strategy – Along with Essentialism (and the birth of Henry!), this book clarified what I really want to focus on. The author also tears apart school districts’ vague “mission statements” which I quite enjoyed.
- Children of Time – A fun sci-fi book about super-intelligent spiders. Incredibly, the spiders are much more relatable than the human characters. (Update: I initially linked to the book Spiderlight which is from the same author and also about giant spiders, but not as good! Sorry.)
- Shakespeare: The World As Stage – A delightful (and quick) read from one of my favorite authors: Bill Bryson.
- Bad Blood — OMG. I read this in two days and Mary had it done in four. The most incredible story of a horrible, fraudulent biotech company.
Since I find myself often forgetting most of what I’ve read, I started using a flashcard app Anki to help me remember important points from books. This process was inspired by an article about augmenting long term memory. This has made a major impact on how much I can recall from my reading. (I also used it to start learning the Korean writing system!)
As always, thanks to you all for your support whether you’ve subscribed to Byrdseed.TV, invited me to come speak, or sent a kind note. I hope to serve you (and your students) well in 2019!
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