I went back and forth about whether I’d write an annual review for 2020 (I’ve written these since 2011), but I’m sure that I’ll want to look back and read 2020’s review someday, so here we go!
I used to include a section about the states I had visited and all of the events I participated in. Luckily (very luckily) I had already been transitioning away from speaking over the last few years. The final event on my schedule was in the Fall of 2019 and, boy, my timing could not have been more fortuitous. In terms of my business, I was unintentionally ready for what 2020 would bring.
- Miles flown in 2018: ~100,000
- Miles flown in 2019: ~80,000
- Miles flown in 2020: 0
- Events in 2018: 29
- Events in 2019: 17
- Events in 2020: 0
Brief story: The summer after I quit teaching, way back in 2012, I started building Byrdseed.TV. But it was very different back then! I saw it as more of a “here’s me talking into a camera” type-of-thing. I was basically just putting my conference talks onto the web.
It took me years to realize that people don’t really want me vaguely explaining ideas into a webcam. Instead, you want lessons, projects, and investigations that are fully developed so that you can just use them with your students!
I remember telling my friend about my epiphany. “I’m changing Byrdseed.TV to feature pre-made lessons you can use directly with students!” Her response? “Oh, that’s what I thought you were making in the first place.” 🤦♂️
So, I was (again) fortunate to have had eight years to slowly figure out what worked best for Byrdseed.TV. I didn’t feel like I needed to throw something together in the middle of the pandemic to try to replace my consulting income. I was actually very proud to welcome thousands of new members to Byrdseed.TV in 2020 – as a recovering perfectionist, being proud of my work is not always easy!
Specifically, in 2020:
- I added dozens of new lessons and (more importantly to me) re-worked many older videos that I was no longer so proud of.
- I developed a way to make sharing videos easier for remote classrooms. This was very popular and I’m so glad I got it working.
- I converted lots of PDF worksheets into Google Slides.
- I built out an Administrator level for folks who need to run professional development – remotely or in-person.
Haven’t tried it out yet? Byrdseed.TV opens for new memberships once a season, so check it out today!
I also kept my weekly Puzzlements Newsletter going every Friday (with occasional breaks for holidays and summer). I’ve been doing this for six years now, and I plan to switch it up a bit in 2021. I’m feeling the burnout but am also aware that thousands of people really like this mailer!
Lisa Van Gemert and I had planned on hosting more of our Gifted Guild Gatherings in 2020 (including our first international events!) but, obviously, that didn’t work out. Our Depth and Complexity Book, however, continues to surpass our expectations. Quite a few districts did group book studies in 2020. Lisa also took all of the question stems and created a $5 PDF for folks who want easy access to just the Depth and Complexity questions.
While I wrote less than usual (all of my creative energy went to Byrdseed.TV this year), I did a bit of a holiday giveaway at the end of the year, purchasing things on teachers’ Amazon wishlists and donating to some DonorsChoose campaigns. It was very fun and rewarding and I got lots of nice notes back in return. When funds permit, I plan to revisit this once a quarter. I did learn to create a separate Amazon account, though, as these purchases plus our usual holiday shopping led to a real traffic jam of shipping notifications!
Also, Byrdseed.com will turn A Dozen Years Old in the summer of 2021! Yikes!
🏠 In Byrd family news, we moved to the Oregon coast in the Fall of 2020. Things were a bit cramped in our tiny Portland pad once I had to start working from home. Now I have an office, my toddler can wreak havoc downstairs, and (most importantly) the school where Kindergarten Cop was filmed is just a mile away! We’re loving it so far. I’m sure we’ll miss the many fun features of Portland someday, but (for now) it’s nice to have more indoor space and to get away from the crowds. The weirdest part of the move? I’ve never been this far from an airport! PDX is a two-hour drive! 😱
㊗️ Perhaps my most unexpected accomplishment is managing to stick with my daily Japanese practice despite… everything. In 2020, I learned 650 kanji using the tool WaniKani. I can vaguely read a lot of Japanese Twitter now! Reality check: I still need to learn 1500 more kanji to have a high-school level of literacy. Oof! I’ve studied Japanese on-and-off since college, but 2020 was the year I made the most progress. Oh, hey, is there anyone reading this who teaches in Japan? Let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
👶 Hard to believe, but my kid turns three soon. I will not bore you with how cute and brilliant he is — but he is. While he’s made recording narration at home a bit challenging (especially before our move), I do appreciate that I get to see him so much every day now.
👴 I turned 40 in 2020! It would have been fun to do something big, but… oh well. 41 is a cool prime number and is even more worthy of celebration.
📚 2020 was an unusually bad book-reading year for me. After the kid goes down, I have found myself just too tired to focus. Normally, I like to make a list of my favorite reads, but I’ll cut myself some slack this year!
It’s pretty hard to make any kinds of plans right now, isn’t it? Will there be in-person events in the Fall? Will schools resume normal instruction soon? I’ve never faced such uncertainty! Looking at 2021, my plan is to just keep adding to Byrdseed.TV. I have about 5 million ideas for lessons to create, so I’m thrilled that I can buckle down and keep working. It’s a joy to be able to do something that I love (I love love love writing lessons in a way I never loved consulting) that clearly helps teachers and, of course, students.
Goodbye, 2020, and here’s to a better 2021!
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