The #MyWorkflow series asks educators who are active creators on social media to share how they do their work. Today we speak with Matthew Oldridge, critical thinker, sharer, and prolific blogger. I’ve admired Matthew’s thoughts and critical questions from afar for quite a while now. Never one to shy away from openly sharing his thinking on his twitter feed or wonderful Medium and math blogs, Matthew always provokes and never shies away from deep, pedagogical conversations that go beyond the latest trends and bandwagons.
How do you pay the bills?
Right now I am a “resource teacher of effective mathematics”. (As opposed to all the “resource teachers of ineffective mathematics”-we had to let them go…) I have a great job title, and I get to talk about math teaching and learning every day, all day!
What regular activity brings you little money but loads of happiness?
I have 4 and 5-year-old boys, so just going for a walk in the park is often enough to ground me, and bring back the sense of wonder at the world. It’s the small things – watching them learn to read, hugs, all the questions they ask. Amazing!
What’s your current phone? Which phone do you miss? What will be your next one?
My phone is the iPhone 5S. I had the iPhone4 before that. Next, I guess I’ll get iPhone 6, or 7, or whatever it will be when this one starts getting laggy and crashing a lot.
What’s your current laptop (be specific)? Which laptop do you miss? What will be your next one?
A nifty grey and black Dell from work. Not flashy, but very very light. I did have one of those huge heavy bricks of a laptop around the year 2000 and took it all the way to Japan. Don’t miss that! Truth: I will get some kind of Macbook next probably. All the cool kids have them.
What apps and/or methods do you use to stay productive?
Twitter is my main workflow. When I need to bounce an idea off someone, for a project I’m working on, I got there. If I want feedback, I got there, to my PLN. If I want to start a debate about something I’m questioning, I go there.
Backchannel DM if it’s a more private question, out in the commons if it can help anyone else.
I check Twitter first thing everyday-way before email. I have strict boundaries about email, as I’ve seen it creep too far into people’s lives.
Which apps do you check persistently, even if you wish you didn’t?
Twitter, although when you follow 4500 people, you sometimes just drop in, drop out. You can’t see everything when you’re network is that big.
I’m going to go with MLB, during the season. I only have basic cable, so I miss some Jays games, or I’m out. I check the notifications and the box score constantly. I’ll even stare at the stock image of the “guy at bat”, waiting for the pitch…
How do you carry your gear?
Nice blue bag called “Jack Spade”. It’s usually stuffed full of papers and books as well, like a professor might have.
What other hardware rarely leave your bag?
Beaten up old iPad2, which refuses to die. Work iPad Mini 2. Some dongles and cables. Earbuds.
What piece(s) of analogue technology is a must in your life?
Books, always and forever man. The iBook store just doesn’t do it for me. I need books. Mental maker spaces since the invention of the printing press in 1455!
What drink, snack, or food sits next to you when you’re being creative?
Coffee. Coffee. Any kind of coffee. I’d eat cheezies, but that would turn the keys orange.
When working, do you prefer the cafe, library, couch, office, kitchen table, or other?
Dining room table, with no kids around. Or I put on some music in my ear.
When working, do you need quiet, ambient noise, speakers, or headphones?
Music. Pro tip: the atmospheric soundscapes of Montreal’s Godspeed! You Black Emperor, are amazing for getting the creativity going. Put the earbuds in, and go into a zone. Whatever is new on Google Play Music as well. If I’m more hyped and I’m feeling energized, Drake or Kendrick Lamar is good.
If it’s one of the latter two, what’s on your playlist?
Answered above. Anything from the Grateful Dead, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, to Drake, Kendrick Lamar, instrumental guitar stuff, to…some new trendy band I’ve never heard of.
I also listened to the reissue of Phil Collins’ “No Jacket Required”. I don’t recommend you do that, except for “Sussudio”, which is still awesome!
Morning, afternoon, evening, or the witching hour?
Morning. I used to get to school very early when I was in the classroom, now I hit my desk as early as I can. I fade out around 8pm, as a function of having kids, and being up too early.
How do you get from idea to shipping that idea?
I do it like John Stockton or Magic Johnson- get the idea, pass along the idea. Life’s too short to sit on things, and anyway, it’s a sharing world!
Usually, that means tweeting the idea right away, and seeing what others think.
What’s one piece of advice you have for people that have difficulty with their workflow?
Don’t do to-do lists. Come up with your non-negotiables for the day and take care of them.
Don’t stay chained to your desk – go for a walk, coffee, go for lunch, read some news websites. Creativity and productivity are helped by productive procrastination!
How can we find and connect with you online?
@MatthewOldridge. Either that or send out a messenger pigeon to my house. I’ll be there!