Today I’ve been trying to attend webinars sponsored by one of the apps we use in our school division. I have not been successful in logging into any of the sessions so far which is somewhat frustrating. I’m hoping there will be recordings to view later on. What’s even more frustrating is that the times are all EDT which means it’s 2 hours earlier here so the 9:00 AM session I was suppose to attend was 7:00 AM here so not being able to log in was a disappointing. I had my iPad all ready and tried unsuccessfully to log in a number of times. When I couldn’t log in, I did some reading. I should have gone to get the laptop for the next session but I really didn’t want to go all the way downstairs to get it.
It is summer vacation you know. I mean just the fact that I was up and had my iPad all ready should have been enough. Alas, I couldn’t log into the next session either. So here I sit waiting for the third session to start. I have moved to the deck to enjoy the sun and sounds while I drink coffee and attend the session.
PD isn’t about the sessions I attend, books and articles I read, or the conferences I attend. It’s all about mindset. The approach I take is about Personal Development. Sometimes my focus is on the professional but it’s not my sole purpose for learning and growth. I am more interested in seeing how different aspects of life, like mental wellness, reconciliation, physical well being and sharing with others can help me improve than finding another education book to read.
I use to …
Like many professionals it would seem, I would define myself as “A Teacher”. However, when I took time away from teaching, I realized that by identifying myself in this way, I was limiting myself. Although I am a teacher, I am so much more. There are many different ways that we can see ourselves and a lot of different tools that can help explore the whole individual. By shifting our mindset to move beyond the duality of Work-Life, it opens us up to greater possibilities of who we are and who we can be. The Wheel of Life is something that many people use for this. It has a wide number of different variations which change across cultures. Below are three generic type of wheels that one can use to plot the different aspects of life plus there are a wealth of sites that guide you through the practice.
With any of these approaches, one can begin to explore beyond just the professional dimension and delve into how to thrive in the different areas. It also makes it visually clear that to discuss balance doesn’t capture who we are as people. To limit the discussion to Work-Life is to overemphasize one aspect of our lives at the risk of undervaluing the other parts. When we put that much emphasis on one aspect of our lives, it can limit our ability to deal with what is happening in other areas and deplete our energy to thrive as a person.
Work is important and takes up a good part of our day but for many of us, it is taking up a disproportionate amount of time in our lives. We continue to struggle with a disconnect between the research and what is being said about taking care of our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well being and the unspoken pressure to continually focus on work and our work lives. This disconnect is perpetuated through the image of trying to ‘balance’ work and life instead of work being one part of who each of us is an an individual.
Changing the Conversation about Balance
What exactly does one mean when they talk about Work-Life Balance? Given how intertwined our lives are with others and the different aspects that make each of us unique, trying to define balance between work and all the other things seems a bit absurd.
What would happen if, instead, there was a focus on eliminating ‘balance’ and instead discussing how we can help each other thrive as individual?
As teachers, there is often a dichotomy with our lives as teachers and what we do outside the building we call school. How often have you run into a student somewhere like the grocery store and they seem amazed that you do things like shopping? Yet, what happens outside that school building shapes how we act, react, and interact. And it’s not just teachers.
How much of a student’s life is connected to school. It seems the connection between a student’s school life and what they do outside of school is often some ‘other’ that is outside of the child. I still hear teachers-parents-community talk about ‘real life’ outside of school as if student enter some kind of MCU alternate universe when they go to school only to emerge and reenter their lives. Given the technology AND what we have experienced in the past year with blended learning and using technology integration in learning, the tools are available to bridge these two worlds so that they become connected, helping students to thrive as individuals.
PD to Thrive – PD to Bridge
So today, I’m exploring how to increase my effectiveness in the area of math instruction, assessment and support. I will also be working on increasing my knowledge of using Minecraft later this summer, integrating more work with SeeSaw and Microsoft because these are the tools that are used in the school division. But I will also be reading about Design Thinking, Doodling and Visual Representation, Physical Fitness and Nutrition, How to take care of different plants, Canning and Pickling, Making Salsa, Meditation and Mindfulness, Reconciliation, and traveling to worlds beyond and much more. Does each of these make me a better teacher? Yes because they help me to thrive as an individual beyond what I do for work which ultimately helps me to be better at what I do.
What are the colours you are using for your own pallet? Are they all related to work – books, articles, references? Or do you seek to thrive by mixing and matching? Painting from the colours from all parts of your life?
As we emerge from the past year, the discussion about mental health and well being has grown. For this to become more than just ‘talk’, there is a need to shift how we approach all parts of our lives. Sliding back into what was is a real possibility especially given that many teachers are feeling anxiety and stress about a year that hasn’t yet started. However, I would suggest that this the time to step back, reflect, and make adjustments so that you can thrive. We need to go beyond head nodding. As individuals, we can choose to reflect on how we are doing and strive to get beyond balance, to embrace our whole selves. In doing so, we know that the upcoming year will have stress but we will build routines and habits that will allow us to thrive, not only at work but in all areas of our lives.