The #MyWorkflow series asks educators who are active creators on social media to share how they do their work. Today we speak with Brian Harrison, a great friend of mine. I first met Brian because of having the privilege of collaborating with one of the greatest pedagogues I know, his better half, Angie Harrison. Ever since, I have been a better father, husband, and educator because of the mentorship they have both been so generous to provide me with. Perhaps the first school administrator in our board to blog actively about his role as a leader, Brian continues to provoke, reflect, and inspire in ways that are special for someone in such a high pressure position. He always approaches educational leadership with the lens of a learner and teacher, and is as generous in his listening as he is swift in his turn of phrase.
How do you pay the bills?
I work as the principal of a K-8 school.
What regular activity brings you little money but loads of happiness?
Writing is an activity I enjoy a great deal and do, in various forms (reports, blog posts, newsletters, emails and notes) every single day. I’ve published a few journal pieces and worked on the writing team for a history textbook a few years back- it’s still a cool feeling when the royalty cheque arrives in my mailbox.
What’s your current phone? Which phone do you miss? What will be your next one?
iPhone 5s. I remember when I was 6 we had a candy apple red push button phone that I loved. It had a chord that could stretch all the way across the kitchen and, rather than beeping when a button was pressed, it would make the coolest whirring sound- like the purring of a cat- that was one cool phone- not very mobile though.
What’s your current laptop? Which laptop do you miss? What will be your next one?
2012 MacBook Pro 13 inch. My first MacBook was a circa 2006 plastic white ones- I refer to those as the Stormtrooper MacBooks- I used it until it kacked. Next up will be a MacBook Air- it’s not necessarily the design or appearance of the hardware- I really am drawn to to the iOS.
What apps and/or methods do you use to stay productive?
iCal & Outlook, Google Drive, Twitter, WordPress, Medium and Flipboard. At work I use a scratchpad to create a task list for the next day before I leave and cross out the tasks as I complete them- retro and simple; nothing is more satisfying that a scratchpad with all the words crossed out.
Which apps do you check persistently, even if you wish you didn’t?
TripAdvisor- my guilty pleasure.
How do you carry your gear?
What other hardware rarely leave your bag?
I’m a light packer so if it’s in the backpack it’s being used. I’m a bit obsessive about battery power so I carry my power and use it whenever my laptop is out.
What piece(s) of analogue technology is a must in your life?
Does the scratch pad count?
What drink, snack, or food sits next to you when you’re being creative?
Coffee: at work or until mid-afternoon. Jameson’s: at home and after beer o’clock.
When working, do you prefer the cafe, library, couch, office, kitchen table, or other?
Couch in the winter- backyard in the pergola when weather permits.
When working, do you need quiet, ambient noise, speakers, or headphones?
Quiet is fine, low music or a sporting event on tv is fine too.
If it’s one of the latter two, what’s on your playlist?
Springsteen, Adult Alt and any Toronto sports team.
Morning, afternoon, evening, or the witching hour?
For blogs- Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings seem to be the best. For work (memos & such) it’s often the middle of the night. If it’s in my head and keeping me up it must be expelled- I once created the entire timetable for a K-8 school between the hours of 2:00-5:00 am.
How do you get from idea to shipping that idea?
I talk with people, listen and watch attentively and refine based on feedback. It’s amazing how much people say with their eyes. Once I’ve refine the idea is shipped as a story.
What’s one piece of advice you have for people that have difficulty with their workflow?
Know if you are an introvert or extrovert- workflow is all about creativity and energy.
How can we find and connect with you online?