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Hi.

Welcome to my blog. I document our adventures of raising five children.  This is our story.  I hope it inspires you to embrace your journey!

A well-balanced teacher...

A well-balanced teacher...

I love when things just work out, when you are tasked with something and you know exactly how to tackle the job. If you didn’t know this already, teachers are life-long learners, we chose the education profession because we want to help others grow and at the same time we thrive off learning and growing ourselves (we are all inner-nerds). I’m currently taking courses to refine my practice and I’m in enrolled in a class titled “Refocus and Recharge” (Learner’s Edge). This is the perfect course for me right now - summer has started, I’m feeling the exhaustion and joy that comes with the closing of a school year - I also just finished my 13th year of teaching and at this point sometimes educators can get in a rut or struggle to find balance between their growing families and their career. One of the options for an assignment is to write a blog post that is focused on helping teachers find balance and strengthen their personal wellness. When I read the assignment, I thought YES, I can do this and I want to do this. Teachers have the most important job in the world and in order for us to give to others, we must first give to ourselves.

For this course we were asked to read Mike Anderson’s book The Well-Balanced Teacher and I want to share with you the aspects of the text, from my personal experience, that I believe will greatly benefit any teacher, but honestly these topics and ideas could translate to any profession - balance is almost impossible to gain, but harmony can be found and all people need that sense of calm and control in their lives.

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A well-balanced teacher needs to be able to manage stress…

Research proves that teaching is one of the most stressful professions. There is no way to eliminate stress all together and truly it is the nature of the job, but there are ways to better manage our stress and it’s critical that we do. Stress can have implications on our health, impact our relationships with family and friends, and stress can directly effect our students - they feed off of our energy. Below you will find ways to shift your focus on you, your time, your passion and with those small changes, stress will be shifted and even lightened.

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A well-balanced teacher needs to fulfill his/her basic needs…

Sounds like such a simple thing and something that we all should do every day - fulfill our basic needs - but sadly we don’t. Be thoughtful about the fuel you put into your body. I can be guilty of sipping on coffee all day long, but in reality I need to be hydrating myself. Create a water challenge among your colleagues and hold one another accountable. Don’t snack all day long, but rather eat foods that will give you energy; teaching is a job that requires focus and high energy, we need to be at our best and fulfilling these needs can help with that. Quality sleep and consistent exercise are also ways to fill your cup, but an imperative piece to maintaining your basic needs is attending to your mental well-being. It’s very difficult for teachers to shut off from school, we are constantly thinking about how to improve, if our students are okay, what do we need to do for the next day, but it is crucial for our own spirit to disconnect from school. There are many ways to get your mind off of school, but these are ways that I shift my focus when I get home - play with my children, cook dinner, write, read a book, take pictures, sit on the porch with my husband. Taking care of your well-being might also mean personal reflection or connecting with nature. You must start each day completely filled-up because your family, students, and colleagues need you. Find ways to fill your cup!

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A well-balanced teacher needs to feel a sense of belonging…

As humans we thrive off of being a part of a group, we yearn to be accepted. Having that sense of belonging in the workplace is also important. Build relationships with your colleagues, but be intentional with whom and how you spend your time. Everyone has fallen into the complaining trap, but don’t waste time with those who can’t seem to get out of that mode. Rather friend those colleagues who are enthusiastic and give off good energy. Surround yourself with people who build you up verses bringing you down. It’s also important to create healthy relationships with your administrators, students and parents. The best advice when doing so is to be proactive and get to know people, clearly communicate and have follow through with that respect grows, and know where to draw a line. We spend a large chunk of our day at work, we need to feel like we belong, building relationships with others where we feel supported and challenged will have a great impact on how we feel about ourselves and our job.

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A well-balanced teacher needs to understand their significance and can define their purpose…

There was a quote in the text that really resonated with me, it said, “When we feel that the work we do has purpose beyond ourselves, and that we are contributing to the greater good, we stay motivated and passionate about our work” (Anderson). As teachers, we easily become consumed with the daily grind and can quickly get bogged down by the weight of it all. When this happens, we lose sight of the big picture, we forget our purpose and are clouded by the demands so we no longer see our significance. Ways to combat the inevitable is to look for the little things that prove the impact you are making on others and hold tight to that - it might be a quick conversation with a student or an email a parent sent you. Be involved with committees and activities that hold significance, you will feel empowered and have a voice. Try to remind yourself every day of the good you do and the importance of your job, try to carry the passion and excitement you have when you start each school year, all the way through until June. You matter!

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A well-balanced teacher needs to have competence and self-efficacy…

When teachers maintain their vision and purpose as well as feel significant, in turn they see themselves as competent and have a high level of self-efficacy. We rely on others to show us our significance, but our competence, our belief in our abilities, comes directly from us. The best teachers are reflective, they question themselves and are constantly wanting to improve. But those very same teachers have confidence in their abilities, they can effectively grow and improve because they see themselves as quality educators. Sometimes you have to shift your mindset and allow yourself to be proud of your successes and don’t wait for approval from others. I’ve learned through the years that the work I’m most excited by is when I see the success of my students and the greater impact of the event or lesson. I don’t need my principal to recognize me, I don’t need a glowing email from a parent. I know in my heart that I did something great, because it resonated with my students and they grew because of it. Having confidence will allow you to go further with your career, you will be more willing to take chances and reinvent yourself.

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A well-balanced teacher needs to embrace the fun…

We should love what we do and find joy in our job. We can be silly with students, have personal conversations with colleagues. We can poke fun at ourselves or let our guard down. We can insert creative twists to typical lessons, this builds community within our classroom and allows our students to see us as people and not just deliverers of curriculum. Fun in the classroom also happens when time just flies by because we are all so lost in the task at hand. How rewarding when as teachers we create curriculum that can consume our students or when a lesson takes a different twist and it goes some place we never imagined! One unit that I am very proud of was born out of argumentative standards, but rather then text my colleague and I decided to use film. Our students watch, analyze and evaluate the argument present in the documentary Blackfish, we then throw in SeaWorld’s stance through articles. The conversations are rich, focused, and filled with questions. Once we’ve evaluated how people can create an argument through film, we then task them to do the same. We ask them…what change do you want to see in the world? And then we say, go make a film about it! This unit is fun! It’s fun because it’s engaging, it’s different, it’s thought provoking, it’s real life. We need to be willing to be creative and step out of the box and check off our standards that we are required to teach in different ways. Let learning be fun!

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A well-balanced teacher needs to manage their time and maintain balance in their lives…

If you are a teacher you’ve felt it, if you know a teacher you’ve seen it all over their face… the feeling of being overwhelmed and the true anxiety that comes with not knowing if you can possibly accomplish all that is on your plate, let alone have a real life beyond the walls of your classroom. Whenever administrators ask our staff “what do you need”, the response is always TIME. We have to accept that it’s not going to happen and at the same time accept that we can’t do it all. Some suggestions for managing your time would be to decide on a handful of nonnegotiables, these things are your priority every day. The next step would be to let some things go; maybe you don’t coach this season, or you resign from a committee. Part of the process is learning not only how to be more efficient with your time at school, but also learning to say no. Personally, I’m a perfectionist and a people pleaser, this can be a draining combination. Since this is the case, I find it really difficult to not do everything with 110% effort. After having my twins, children number four and five, I realized I just can’t do it all and I said no to things, but I also found ways to be more efficient at school because when I get home it’s nearly impossible to do school work. So, I’m stingy with my planning time, I always leave the day having tied up loose ends, and I might work during lunch once a week just to get caught up when needed. There are only 24 hours in the day, and it’s truly not enough, but we can make it better if we reevaluate our priorities and be thoughtful with how we use our time.

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My personal belief is balance is unattainable, but that there is an ebb and flow to our lives and we can find harmony, when we learn to redefine our norms and accept our abilities and situations. We can be well-balanced, we can be happy, we can be passionate about our career and just as involved with our home life and hobbies. We can be all of those things, we just have to nurture our own well-being, fill our cups, and lean on the community we have built around us.





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