It is 4:00, and all of our students have been dismissed. Many teachers are still busily working in their classrooms or collaborating with each other to prepare for the next day. I head to my office to sit down and turn my computer on (yes, I said turn it ON…thank goodness for smartphones!), and begin sorting through the 87 emails that I failed to answer on my iPhone during the day. My lunch sits half eaten and I reach for my favorite candy to munch on as I pull up gmail and begin signing invoices. Before I know it, the time is after 7:00! I still have unanswered emails and a small pile of “to dos” on my desk.
After the first three weeks of school, it hit me. Not all emails have to be answered the very day they come through. Not every paper has to be signed the very day it arrives on my desk. Not everything in my pile of “to dos” has to be finished by the end of this day. I realized I have been trying to accomplish too much in a day’s time. My mornings with kids start at 7:30, and I do not sit down at my desk for more than a few minutes during the day. I prefer to be out in the hallways, cafeteria, and classrooms. I have, for the most part, accomplished this on most days, but have been trying to do everything else after school. I realized after the third week that I am lacking a very big necessity…BALANCE.
I love what I do. I love it so much that I have a hard time separating my personal and professional life. Being an educator is a huge part of who I am, and I am proud of that. I have no intentions of changing that about myself…ever. I can have passion for my profession and still leave work at a decent time of day. Balance is key. I need my family time. I need my ME time. I need my exercise time. I need my spiritual time to reflect. I need SLEEP! Balance is a necessity.
Paperwork, the budget, managerial email checking, and other things can WAIT. I am not speaking of procrastination, but prioritization. My main priorities each day are to connect with children, families, and teachers, to be visible throughout the building and in classrooms, to observe learning and teaching, and to support growth in others. There are other tasks that must be accomplished, and I will balance prioritization on those things. My goal for this upcoming week is to simply BALANCE. Life requires it. We have joy in our hearts when our lives are well balanced. We have hope in tomorrow when our hearts feel balanced. Hope and joy take us far in life, and help us shine a light for others. I plan to keep my joy and my hope…and strive for that healthy balance. It won’t be easy for me, but I am setting a goal and have placed it in writing to hold myself accountable! I can do this! I challenge my fellow friend and PLN to do the same. Join me in the balancing act challenge!
It’s going to be a great week. I get to wake up each day and do what I am called to do. I have numerous opportunities to make a difference in kids and adults. THAT gives me much joy in my heart and hope for an epic school year. I am beginning to feel balanced already…
This is a fantastic post, Bethany. Thank you for being so honest and authentic. I am a “beginning teacher” and always trying to prioritize. I love that you mentioned you would rather be in classrooms and see students. I am sure your staff loves the support. Keep doing what you are doing- looks like you’re off to a fantastic start!
Great Job, Bethany. The work is never done but it is worth it. I love that you recognize that you see the difficulty in separating your personal and professional because what you do is part of who you are. I would love to say it gets easier but I can’t. If you keep moving forward then it might not get easier, but it continues to get better.
Thank you, Jay!
Thank you Bethany, for reminding me of this! I think I already need to find a balance! I need to find time for me, my family, my work and school.
Last year my buddy teacher and I realized that we needed more down time, so we implemented a time in our lunch time to walk around the neighborhood of the school. It was exercise, and a break from the chaos of the day! We would come back from our walk in such a positive mood. The last period of the day was less difficult to manage. It was not only exercise for our body, but gave our brain a little down time to deal with the remainder of our day!
Our principal also believes in balance. She implements a non-negotiable of rejuvenation! She also reminds us of it, especially at the most stressful times of the year. It’s nice to have that support from administration!
I just think that sometimes we get so busy and stressed that we forget some of the most important things we need for ourselves!
Thank you for reminding me that things can wait! I will try to remember that when a lot is on my plate, I just need to prioritize, set a leaving time for work, and make sure to have balance.
Bethany, this is a terrific post. I really like how you summed up the day in the life with more of a mindset and focus, rather than the minute by minute.
I was given some advice when I first began my administrative career. I was told, “Teachers can wrap the day up in a nice bow and be ready for tomorrow. Administrators must be okay with leaving things unwrapped.” It’s impossible to get everything done every single day.
We all chase balance, which makes me believe balance is different for everyone. You and I both are trying to find our own balance in our own way. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you ever need someone to listen.