Health and Fitness Mission Professional Growth Self-Reflection

When The Wheels Fall Off


And do you know what the worst part is? I let it dam my flow!  I’ve come to learn that it is so much more fun to write when things are going well.  I’ve also learned that I need to publish immediately, even if I’m not proud of the contents, because that’s what blogs are for.  Who’s to say that posts about honest struggle carry less value to the reader or the writer than brag posts?

A quick recap:  I am in the middle of a massive self-reconstruction project.  (It’s massive to me, but I don’t think anyone outside the audience of this blog would have any idea that I’m doing anything out of the ordinary.)  My goal is to take this Covid time-out and use it to completely change.  My goal is to be a better person physically, mentally, and professionally, and in any other way that occurs to me.  It occurred to me early on that this really is an opportunity like no other, like a caterpillar in the cocoon, I’m leaning into the voluntary social distancing required to stay healthy.

So, even though you, the reader, are probably only interested in parts of this post, I thought I would use it to do a general check-in on all plates I have spinning around me all at once. Yes, that’s clunky, but I’ve fallen behind.  Good luck readers!


I might as well start here and get the disappointment out of the way.  Unlike other posts you will find no graphs or tables here today.  The injury I sustained to my back two Sundays ago has proven to be persistent.  That said, I have 5 days of extremely light resistance and gentle stretching under my belt.  I’m close to getting back to it, but it has taken a complete fortnight to get to this point.  

In addition:

I have learned that there are limitations to my garage gym.  I was able to deal with humidity and melting snow from the cars, but the weather forecasted above is only a continuation of the weather we have already endured.  January was jungle hot compared to February.   So my new gym is literally a 6’ X 7’ landing near my basement stairs-literally the only place in the house where I can lay without stacking couches or beds.  And you know what?  It’s perfect!  I’m absolutely prevented from undertaking anything that could further injure me.  It seems I’m being instructed from above to ease my way back(pun intended).


My “Dry January” turned into “Dry Close Enough!”  Yep, tripped at the finish.  On a positive note this has become a bi-annual undertaking, as I take Septembers off too.(If I have successfully completed two January and one September liquor fast am I allowed to talk about it like this is a thing I do?)  I think it was my frustration at not being able to work out as much as anything that was responsible for my falter.

I am also not using Fitness Pal to track my eating at this time.  This was never meant to be a long term intervention, rather a mental calibration to get a feel for what portion control should feel like.  As I stated in earlier blogs, I’m not out to lose weight.  If anything I probably need to gain some.  My ultimate goal is to maintain mass as I traipse through time.

What is really helping me most is that, as a family, we are extremely motivated to eat well right now.  My current belief is that rather than restrict the amount eaten we should add fresh vegetables to every meal.  A salad or a soup, when added to a meal, fills in the cracks before the naughty foods can.


Almost Five Weeks

This is the view from my Rosetta Stone progress plan.  I have completed 4 weeks, and have one more lesson in week five.  As I mentioned earlier, for me this program is best used in conjunction with Duolingo as it focuses way more on pronunciation.  However, I find myself counting the seconds for each lesson to be over.  In the program’s defense I usually do it after I have already completed an hour or two of Duolingo.  How fair is that? 

On January 3rd, when I last posted about Spanish I was at 19500 XP, so as you can see, I’ve earned almost 4000 points since then(with corrections that’s like 5000 questions!)  Check out the streak of days!

Duolingo Points
Hey, at this point I have to celebrate even the little things!

Professional Growth

I’d like to start by mentioning this very blog.  This was new to me.  I’m going to give myself a pat on the back here.  No, this isn’t Catcher In The Rye, but I do try to put a little thought into what I produce here.  Also, putting yourself out there publicly has to be worth something too.  So there it is.  Another 10 posts during the month of January.  Not terrible.

This Counts!

In addition to blogging I have completed 5 online education classes for my teaching licensure to date(Digital Literacy and The Connected Classroom from Eduro, and Cultural Competency(2 parts) and Mental Illness in Children and Adolescents from EQ Learn.

For the record, this is not the only place I record my thoughts. I have a journal I have kept on and off for almost 30 years(mostly on!). I mention this because, in looking over what I have written so far, there are some pretty major omissions that I’m still not at the point I want to share publicly. My spiritual journey and future plans make up a large portion of what goes into it my hand written journal(incidentally, there is nothing better than a fountain pen and a good journal to coax out the most stubborn thinking!) Perhaps, in the future, I’ll pull back the curtain on some of this growth as well. For now you’ll just have to be satisfied with that Duolingo streak. Whoa!

Photo Credit

Featured Image: Photo by Mark Zamora on Unsplash

Professional Growth


In this post I will explain the benefits of Eduro Learning as an online continuing education option for educators.  

I’m a little mad at myself.  I haven’t been taking my own advice to heart.  In my “Your Own Bucket” post, I quoted Chrissy Hellyer and her idea that a blog is not something that is necessarily written for the audience.  It is “To document my ongoing learning and professional development journey.”  However, I’ve come to learn that it has an even greater purpose than that.  I need to write! On the days that I have not published anything, I feel a sense of loss, like I have somehow let myself down, and now I know why.  It’s because, for the time being(hello Covid!), this is my creative outlet, and as I’ve learned in my Connected Classrooms Course from Eduro Learning:

(I’m opening myself up to failure today in the hopes that it keeps the creativity flowing, and that it allows me to do some growing. If this is not your cup of tea, turn the channel!) 

Why Eduro?

Let’s start with Coetail.  A number of years ago I enrolled in the Coetail Program(The Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy).  For anyone looking to enhance their ability to access technology in a way that allows you to embed it seamlessly into your curriculum, then there is probably no better place you could go than to Coetail.  You are placed in a cohort of like minded individuals, you can work at your own pace, and the instruction is top notch.  Even the assigned work pushes you to explore the very resources you’ll use in your classroom.  To top it off you can earn college credit.  

In my mind, Eduro is sort of a natural extension of that very program.  To be honest, I don’t know which came first, or the exact relationship between the two, all I know is that when I found myself locked in my own home during Covid, wanting to do something to improve as a teacher, I went right back to what I know worked, Coetail(and by extension Eduro).

So far I have taken two courses through Eduro.  They have followed a similar format.  Each course is broken down into bite sized lessons.  A lesson is then broken down further into four distinct sections.  Here is a page from one course to give you an idea.

  1. The “Watch” section is typically a short 15-25 minute video.  Often it follows an interview format where one of the instructors interviews a teacher implementing whatever the topic being covered is.  The videos are extremely relevant, and are a great hook.  
  2. The “Introduction” section is just that, and often reiterates a bit of what was previously viewed.  
  3. The absolute score in Eduro is the “Key Resources” section.  In addition to articles supporting the thinking in each lesson, often there are links to things likeTed talks, or teacher blogs, or slide shows, or other resources that add to your understanding, and to your ability to implement the features of the lesson.  For example, in the lesson above there are over 20 links to infographics, lesson plans, example units, and other useful online resources. 
  4. The “Action” in each lesson is typically a short assignment forcing(and I mean that in the nicest way) the student to use the new tool or idea.  The misty photo above with Kim’s quote is an example of one of my actions.  I used Canva to turn a photograph from one of my bike rides into a cool tweet.

Eduro has many offerings.  If you are someone interested in becoming a coach, then the possibilities are almost endless.  For a classroom or subject specific teacher who is content to stay where he or she is, then perhaps some of the other course offerings would be of more interest.  The MastermindEd series has offerings focused on things like social justice, inclusion, sustainability, and service learning.  There are courses on Women Who Lead, and you could even sign up for personal mentoring.

Eduro has been a great option for me.  The self-paced format offers me the flexibility I love.  In addition, the lessons are easy to navigate, they can be stopped and started at the users convenience.  Also, because courses are taught by actual teachers the material, resources, and course work is all relevant and instantly accessible for your own teaching.  Give Eduro a shot the next time you’re looking to up your game.

Image Credit:

“Digital Literacy in a Connected Classroom.” Eduro Learning,

Professional Growth

“Full” Immersion

The summer after our first year teaching abroad in Korea the first question it always seemed we were asked was, “What was it like?” However, a close second was , “So, can you speak Korean?” The answer, invariably was, and remains to this day, “nope.”  

I spent eight years in a country and learned cab Korean.  I learned just enough to direct a cab driver to my house. Sure I learned a few others like “hello” (goodbye was harder), and “thank you”(critical!).  What an embarrassment!  Oh and, “one more please.” (That beer wasn’t gonna bring itself!). 

In my defense, Korean is not an easy language to learn. In addition, I lived on top of a mountain with other English speaking teachers, at a school(Seoul Foreign School-Amazing!) which prided itself in not only instructing in English, but also in having a population of students that used English on the playground.  Besides, in the back of my mind there was always a voice telling me that Korean was not a language that would “translate” well outside of Korea-meaning, where else was I going to use Korean except in Korea?

As part of my transformation this year I have made the commitment to rectify this situation.  Admittedly, Korean seems a bit beyond my reach at this point, but that doesn’t mean that all languages have to be.  What about Spanish? After all, I had a few years of Spanish in high school, there are many Spanish speakers and Spanish Speaking businesses in my own neighborhood-making it relevant, even now, and with as many Spanish speaking countries as there are the odds are not terrible that our next teaching assignment could wind up being in one of them.

Fifty-five days ago I restarted my Duolingo account.  (I had dabbled in it a little earlier, but this time, as I stated earlier, I’m all about achieving.)  Where my goal before was to practice each day by doing a lesson, my goal this time is to come out of Covid fluent in Spanish.  Boom!  There it is for the world to see! 

In addition to Duolingo I also purchased a lifetime membership to Rosetta StoneI’m not messing around!  Besides, at $179 for a lifetime membership with access to unlimited languages seems like a pretty wise investment in myself.

This is NOT an Either/Or Post.  It is a “why I prefer both” post.

Duolingo is obviously made by people who like video games.  Perhaps the most important feature of the program is that through it’s silly, but effective forms of reinforcement, one feels absolutely compelled to meet one’s daily goal. Here are some examples from my home page:

How many consecutive days have I practiced my Spanish?  How could I forget? I actually get emails reminding me of this streak.

How am I doing this week?  They are only too happy to tell me!

How did that stack up against my friends?  I intentionally left rest of the list off of here, but I can see I’ve almost reached level 10, and I can see where they are too!

How am I doing compared to other people in my league?  Again, Duolingo shows me that too?  Notice the “1D 6H 10M”-In 30 hours and ten minutes everyone in the top ten moves up to the next level.

They understand just how to play me.  I once had a fitbit and had to stop using it temporarily when I caught myself out in the garage at 11:30 pm “sneaking” steps in so my wife wouldn’t know what I was up to.  You see, I just had to get ahead of a friend who was competing on the app with me. You understand. Incidentally, she had to quit when she developed a foot problem trying to stay caught up with me!

Isn’t it amazing that I haven’t even mentioned how the program works?  All this is just the motivation.  As if learning a language isn’t motivation enough!(Read with Sarcasm).  Better to let them explain the process:

Duolingo: The Best Way to Learn a Language (2018)

Now, Rossetta Stone takes a very different approach to learning than Duolingo. Admittedly, I’ve only just begun the Rosetta program, but already it feels like its focus is unique. According to Money Magazine,

“Part of what makes the program so great at this is its teaching philosophy. Listening, reading, writing, speaking — Rosetta tries to combine all the basic elements of language learning into a cohesive, holistic program. Another reason why Rosetta excels in creating an immersive approach to language is its speech recognition technology, which has received praise for its accuracy and high degree of customizability. Learning to speak like native speakers is essential for learners to feel like they are making actual progress in their studies.”

I would very strongly agree with the second part of their assessment especially. It feels like Rosetta is much more about speaking. Pronunciation is a critical part of the program. There are small dials to indicate the degree of how precise a person’s pronunciation was for each word or phrase.

Notice the full green circle above the 6. I nailed it!

In addition, I feel like the pace of Rosetta Stone ensures that there are no gaps in one’s learning. This is not always the case with Duolingo. I find I rely on the discussion thread when I miss a question because, though I’m sure I forget plenty, sometimes it feels like new learning has been added without explanation.

There are many comparisons of the two programs, and others, on youtube. The bottom line for me is that the two programs complement each other in such a way that I feel like I’m getting a great education. With almost two months under my belt I don’t seem to have lost any motivation, and that’s saying something!


Images 1-4 Duolingo, Inc. (11th October, 2018). Spanish. 5900 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 United States of America

Duolingo. “Duolingo: The Best Way to Learn a Language (2018).” YouTube, YouTube, 27 Mar. 2018,

“The Best Language Learning Software for 2020.” Money,

Cambium Learning® Group Company.(1999-2020 ).Rosetta Stone. Spanish. 1621 N. Kent Street, Suite 1200 Arlington, VA 22209