Balance

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I had this goal to blog everyday this year. Then I didn’t yesterday. Yesterday was much busier than I anticipated with different little things all day and then a fantastic night out with friends playing Settlers of Catan which I had never played before. It was a great night, super fun and I didn’t even think about blogging (I was told to put away my phone so I would stop checking my twitter feed) we got home close to midnight and at that moment I was just too tired to blog.

Cut to this morning and my normal Saturday rituals of gym and twitter chats began and I started thinking about my goals and resolutions more. People get so caught up in these things in early January that they tend to put other things aside in an effort to keep these few “important” goals. I could have sat down and done my daily post, been late for a fun night with friends but kept my goal but I chose to put aside my goal for the night, I chose to find a better balance.

I connect this idea to our teaching and how we balance things in the classroom. Assessment and Engagement, Reading and Writing, Talking and Listening, Choice and Required work. I look at my own teaching and how much I balance these things. My first ventures into a more student Voice and Choice classroom has not been smooth to say the least. Some students it has become clear are not as ready as others to take the wheel in their learning , others I am the Driver’s Ed instructor with my foot hovering above the breaks and a few next time around are going to get their own set of keys. I had to find the balance that works for me and they need to find the balance that works for them.

If you have done much reading regarding developing readers it emphasizes student free choice independent books, free of the constraints of levels and programs that some teachers depend on to make sure kids are actually reading. You may expect that I am a die hard supporter of this “free choice” approach to reading as well. I am not surprise but I do think that we need to make sure our students are reading text that helps them grow, in skill and in developing their reading identity. For me that balance is checking in, I need to get better at that, at talking to my students about their books but not to the point of annoying them, again it is all about Balance.

Technology is another area that I think balance becomes KEY. The other day I saw a Donors Choose or go fund me for Kindles to have in the classroom. I can get onboard the Kindle train but I love a good book to turn the pages. The smell of a book in the summer that has the good fortune of being my tanning companion. Even the sound of turning the pages. I can’t imagine going all electronic but I think the balance exists in assistive technology. The Kindle for the student that needs a book read to them, the e-reader pen that reads the words as you scroll past, even the fancy little game that helps kids with decoding. The balance of the technology world in our classrooms and the good old fashion paper and pencil work is so important.

I am grateful for the love I have for learning and all the opportunities I have to learn and grow around me but I am also grateful for the balance that needs to be found for the moments playing cards, or the X-box or just reading a good book.

Teachers work so hard to improve we forget to take time for ourselves. Students have so much on the go we forget their only focus can’t be school work. We need to balance our instruction with meaningful work and engaging ways to show understanding to best serve our kids and we need to balance our lives with work and “taking a break” so that we can best serve our kids. Dr.Jody Carrington said “You can not serve from an empty vessel.” I think balance is the way we fill the vessel back up again.

On that note I am going to go and brave the warm Alberta winds and take the dog for a walk. Have a great weekend.

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