The #MyWorkflow series asks educators who are active creators on social media to share how they do their work. Today we speak to someone who was one of the first people I ever combined face-to-face and asynchronous social media connections with, the great Tina Zita. Around seven years ago, good fortune brought her and I together along with other great educators in three different Ontario school boards to collaborate on a cool project around instructional intelligences. I always look back on it as the birth of networked professional learning for me. Tina is a connector of ideas, people, and resources. As a leader in instructional technology, I’ve always admired the way she balances a critical mindset and pedagogy-first stance with a love for the tools. When I think of Tina, humility, vulnerability, and creativity come to mind first. Always willing to share her struggles as much as her successes, Tina exemplifies a learner’s stance in everything she does.
How do you pay the bills?
I am currently an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher supporting fifty schools from Kindergarten to grade eight at integrating digital tools into their classroom practice. Together we look for new and innovative ways to engage and empower learners. (That description makes me sound way cooler than I am). I also facilitate Additional Qualification courses for OISE from time to time on the side.
What regular activity brings you little money but loads of happiness?
Well, it makes me no money whatsoever but I love playing with photography. Still a lot to learn. I’m a work in progress.
What’s your current phone? Which phone do you miss? What will be your next one?
I currently have an iPhone 5s and am patiently waiting to upgrade this summer to a 6s. It is my 3rd or 4th iPhone now and I love how everything syncs between my devices. If I am completely honest it may also be comfort with the familiar. I definitely do not miss my Nokia phone other than the battery life. A whole day on one charge! It seems like a dream now.
What’s your current laptop? Which laptop do you miss? What will be your next one?
I currently have a MacBook Pro. Hard to believe it is 4 years old now.
Can you see a pattern? I may have a slight love affair with Apple products.
What apps and/or methods do you use to stay productive?
Sometimes it’s the simplest apps that make the biggest difference. Not having to worry about where I am driving with maps or making a bank transfer at 11 p.m. when it hits me, allows me to dive into work just that bit more. I find I also snap photos to help me remember inspirations, quotes, tools (not that it always works). I flip between Reminder, Notes and the Any.Do app for my to do list. The feedback from Any.Do is pretty rewarding. A little pep talk never hurt anyone as you check off those to do items.
A big part of my job as a tech coach is to support the community online and I find Tweet Deck has really changed how I interact on social media and keep up to date with different projects.
Which apps do you check persistently, even if you wish you didn’t?
Social Media, in general, would be my weakness. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are lined up on my phone for easy access. I find I can avoid Facebook but the notifications that pop up have this way of sucking you in. You can logically tell yourself it isn’t that important, it can wait, but the number is just glaring at you.
How do you carry your gear?
After an incident with a pin, a can of coke, and my laptop bag that didn’t end so well I bought myself a new Rudsak bag. It is a big catch all that probably lets me drag along way too much stuff. It’s bad when a bag comes with a mini flashlight. I have bags in my bag to help keep everything semi-organized.
What other hardware rarely leave your bag?
My iPhone, iPad & stylus. I may have driven back home in rush hour because I thought I forgot them.
What piece(s) of analogue technology is a must in your life?
I always have a pen and post-it notes close by when working even with digital tools available. Funny enough there aren’t in my bag. They are kind of the anchor of my work area at home.
What drink, snack, or food sits next to you when you’re being creative?
I probably shouldn’t admit it, but there is always a can of coca cola beside me as I’m creating. If it’s a long night, the chocolate comes out too.
When working, do you prefer the cafe, library, couch, office, kitchen table, or other?
I’d love to start working at a cafe or at least try. In my mind, it would be more social for some reason. Between the two jobs and even non-techy projects, I find I have my little corner in my condo where I usually do work. I’m just realizing now that I picked one of the most closed corners with the worst view to do my work. Something to that I’m sure. Sometimes when creating I find I need that change in place and I’ll move to the floor or the couch (there was a lot of essay writing for my MEd on the floor) but probably most creating happens in 50 square feet of my 700 square feet condo.
When working, do you need quiet, ambient noise, speakers, or headphones?
I do need ambient noise. The joys of living in the city. It is never truly quiet. From the Go train to the Lakeshore traffic or even the winds there is usually some background noise around. If it’s too quiet I’ll play a channel on Apple Music or turn the TV on but I find the lyrics from favourite songs distract me if I’m trying to focus. I’ll grab the headphones and my playlist if I need to take a break, need inspiration or if I need some motivation to get going in the morning.
Morning, afternoon, evening, or the witching hour?
I definitely find I work the best in the evening hours although many poor ideas have been cleaned up with the clarity that comes the next morning.
How do you get from idea to shipping that idea?
With long drives between my schools, I find often an idea will hit me as I’m driving or sitting in traffic. Usually, from there I either start sketching it out (love paper 53 and sketchnoting) to work through it or talk it out with a critical friend (sometimes both). I find the hardest part is sorting through the ideas and knowing which ones to invest time in and which to let be. Sometimes ideas seem so big it is scary to tackle them. There may be one or two that I haven’t jumped into just yet. There is also balancing creating for myself and creating for others. A lesson learned through the #100dayproject last year.
What’s one piece of advice you have for people that have difficulty with their workflow?
Find your own flow. There are often so many tips and tricks that it’s hard to sort through them all. Everyone will have an app suggestion or tool to streamline your workflow. It’s knowing yourself as a learner and individual and giving yourself that freedom if it isn’t working, to let it go. Think about the times when it did work. Keep note of the strategies and techniques that work for you.
How can we find and connect with you online?
You can find out more at about.me/tinazita.
I share mainly on these three platforms: