SELF-REFLECTION AND GOAL SETTING
to find your balance

 

Teachers should be given time to self-reflect and set goals. Teachers can then be asked to reflect on changes in their teaching, their understanding of teaching a subject, and their feelings about teaching different subjects.

 

Using a variety of structures and graphic organizers, teachers are able to look at and think about their practices from different perspectives. Through these reflections, teachers can identify and appreciate their own strengths and strengths of their teammates. 

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

BLOG

BALANCING NUMERACY
to find your balance 
 

Balancing numeracy means to help teachers to move away from seeing and teaching mathematics an isolated subject area.  We should not only help educators to be able to integrate their mathematics instruction into other subject areas, we should also help them to integrate other subject areas into their mathematics instruction.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

IMPROVING "SPRAY AND PRAY" WORKSHOPS
to find your balance
 

With the Common Core Standards, higher demands on student achievement, and advancements in technology, teachers’ need for “worthwhile professional development” is increasing.  Unfortunately, the very term, PD, often triggers a negative attitude in many teachers, brought on by memories of ineffective, “spray and pray workshops” in which teachers spend valuable instructional time listening to a so-called expert tell them about the latest “silver-bullet” that will make every student successful. Most educators would agree that far too many PD sessions ever result in meaningful school change or effective implementation of these "innovations". They need and want effective professional learning opportunities so that they may continue to evolve along with the needs of their students and schools.


Teachers need professional learning opportunities that are respectful, practical, and relevant to their everyday work with students.  They need to be treated as competent individuals who have wisdom about the needs of their students, schools and communities.  They need time to work with colleagues in teams to explore new ideas and adapt them to meet the needs of their students.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

A TOOLBOX OF SKILLS AND STRATEGIES
to find your balance
 

I used to think that someone would come up with the perfect “teaching recipe” and I had a secret hope that it would be me.  Now, I think that the role of the teacher should not be following a recipe but rather building and using a “tool box”.   Building a good “tool box” requires the collaboration of many.  In order for the best teaching to occur, teachers need to be respected, to respect each other, and to respect themselves.  One can only reach that level of respect through a balance of practice, preparedness, and receiving respect for one’s strengths. As we practice being conscious, open minded and focused on seeking a shared vision for providing the best possible education, we will be better prepared to recognize practices that work well for our students and ourselves, let go of practices that are not working, and recover from lessons that don’t go well.

 

                                                            Don’t forget to find today’s balance today!

LITTLE WAYS
to find your balance
 

Through my balance practice I have found that living in the moment allows me to re-energize without taking extra time out of my day by:

  • feeling the warmth of my shower,

  • savoring the flavor of my fresh fall apple

  • listening to my favorite music on the way to and from work 

  • taking notice of the sunrise/sunset

  • breathing deeply as I take the first sip of my morning coffee

  • celebrating accomplishments, no matter how small they are

 

Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES
to find your balance
 

“When we care for ourselves deeply and deliberately, we naturally begin to care for others in a healthier and more effective way” -Cheryl Richardson “Extreme Self Care” pg. xiii

 

As teachers we often find that there is always something we “should” be doing, whether it is attending meetings, responding to parent emails, correcting papers, or planning lessons.  If we are also parents the list of things to do is even longer and there is just no time to care for ourselves.  We feel lucky to have time to grab a quick shower or something to eat before we are on to our next task.

 

                                                            Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

HUMILITY AS A STRATEGY
to find your balance
 
During the times I am feeling self-assured, my balance practice enables me to share what I know confidently, recognize the vulnerability of colleagues who may not feel as secure, and appreciate opposing points of view.  It is only through careful listening of all points of view that we will find a balance that meets the needs of what we are trying to accomplish. 
 
                                                            Don’t forget to find today’s balance!
PROFESSIONAL CHANGES
to find your balance
 

When I think of a balance, I think of it running along a horizontal plane rather than a vertical one.  This kind of orientation allows me lessen my focus on dichotomous thinking (winning/losing, passing/failing) and increase my focus on collaboration.

 

When I embrace the idea of balance during the times I feel insecure, I am able to take advantage of the opportunity to learn new ways of thinking, understand others better and grow as a professional. I have learned through experience to have the faith that this insecurity is only temporary and it will be balanced with more confident feelings later.

 

                                                            Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

LETTING GO
to find your balance
 

One block that often plagues me however is not being able to let go.  For example: sometimes after dinner I think, “I could have added this to the sauce, “ or “I forgot to pull out the special gravy boat.”  Therefore, not only do we need to pat ourselves on the back, we need to let go and be finished with our tasks. 

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

APPRECIATING THE LITTLE THINGS
to find your balance

 

As I bask in the glow of completing a 160 km. walk across the north of Spain, it reminds me of the importance of appreciating our own accomplishments before moving on to our next task.  I think if we can take a minute or two to “pat ourselves on the back” for a job well done and then let go, we can feel a sense of pride, satisfaction and accomplishment.  There are people who LOVE to make lists and cross things out as they complete the tasks on the list (there are even some who add to the list after they have done something just so they can cross it out), and to me this is just one way to appreciate accomplishments.  I often have to stop myself and recognize accomplished tasks that I often take for granted; like getting a good dinner on the table, calling or helping out a friend, or taking time to write in my journal.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

EXAMINING GUILT

to find your balance

 

When we put rules on ourselves or we are afraid of disappointing others; “I have to get this done”, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way.” “I need to do this for so-and-so,” and when we don’t live up to our expectations we often feel guilt.  We often feel bad because we think others are disappointed with us, although they may not be. Recently I have started to ask myself “Can I do something differently to make things better?”  If the answer is “yes” I make the change, however if the answer is no, guilt is serving no purpose.  As we move away from “have to's” and even “shoulds” we can more consciously make decisions.  As I balance what works for me, personally, and what will provide a positive energy to the world, I find that I can let go of the guilt and have more energy to get done what I need to get done.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

KEEPING AN OPEN MIND
to find your balance
 

Good teachers can have skills and talents, but without an open, critical mind they’ll miss the mark in their efforts to serve their students as well as possible. A consequence of a closed mind is that we either get stuck in the rut of what used to work very well or might completely abandon good practices for new ideas that have their own strengths and weaknesses... Education needs to be an ongoing process not only for the learner and the teacher, but also for the entire educational system.

 

                                                           

                                                            Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

CARING FOR YOUR INNER SPIRIT
to find your balance
 
As I travel this journey toward a doctorate degree I am finding that I need to balance things I've never needed to balance before.
 

Life can be very busy with things we "have to do" that we often forget to take care of ourselves.  To take care of ourselves is not selfish, in fact it can be quite the opposite.  As we take care of our inner spirit we become more energized and therefore are better able to care for others.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

REFRAMING CONTENT STANDARDS
to find balance
 

I used to think that teachers needed to provide a good education to their students, as if it were a single objective measure. 

 

I now realize that we are always striving to provide a better education than we did before.  Education is a process and needs to be treated as one.  Skills and information we teach our students today will be outdated in a matter of years, months or even weeks.  Therefore, teachers need to treat our curriculums as living documents that are consistently evolving...

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

WHAT IS BALANCE? 

 

Balance, for me, has become a way of thinking; I find a need for balance everywhere.  Balance has been a practice requiring conscious living and flexible thinking.   Often we live “unbalanced”, because it tends to be easier to go with an extreme, whether it is to hold really tightly to what we’ve always done or to completely let go and jump on the latest bandwagon, dropping everything we did before.

 

Balance requires adjustments, fine-tuning, and modifications, and even when things seem balanced one day, it can be different the next.  Even when I am off balance, I have learned that simply working toward balance, keeping a good sense of humor and living consciously has made me a better professional, a better colleague and a better educator.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

RETHINKING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
to find balance
 

I used to think that professional development consisted of an “expert” delivering information that we, as teachers, passively learn and then going back to our own classroom to try to implement one or two of the new ideas being presented. 

 

Now I think that teachers need to take a more active role in their staff development.  Staff development should be collaboration among teachers, during which they discuss and listen so they will be able to reflect on what they are learning and consciously incorporate it effectively to meet the needs of their students.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

RELAXING THROUGH THE SUMMER
to find your balance
 

Summer is an important time for us teachers to re-energize and do good things for ourselves so that we are better able to serve our students and community in the fall.  It is more caring to take this time for ourselves than to overwork and not be as refreshed when our students come to us.

           

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

HOLDING ON TO VACATION TIMES
to find your balance
 

Here are some thoughts I hold in my head to “keep summer alive”:

 

  • summer is not over until the students come to school

  • I can still use the bathroom whenever I want

  • I can do things on my time…sleep a little later and get my walk in before I start work.

  • Even if I spend 8 hours today preparing for the start of the school year, I don’t have papers to correct afterward.

  • I can do a lot of my preparation at home and/or outside instead of cooped up in my classroom.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

CHANGING YOUR MINDSET
to find your balance
 

As summer comes to a close we teachers all of a sudden feel the stress of the school year coming on quickly.  I have heard some call August the “month of Sundays.” With this mindset we can “lose” up to a month of our summer!  However, by simply changing our mindset we can gain some of that time back.  

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

CELEBRATING
to find your balance
 

Although education is an ongoing process that should never stop evolving, we need to take time to notice success, even baby steps forward, and to acknowledge what is working.  We need to balance the drive to improve with the satisfaction of doing a good job.  We will burn ourselves, and our students, out if we don’t declare things as done, even for a short time.  As a doctoral student, I’ve had to practice this balance as well.  Work could always be made better, yet it also needs to be handed in!

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

INTEGRATING CONTENT AND PROCESS STANDARDS
to find your balance
 
We need to balance between having content and process standards. If our curriculums have more process-oriented goals such as metacognition, collaboration (more than merely cooperation) and building habits of mind including perseverance, acceptance and respect, our students will be prepared to learn anything they want.  Students should know that these process goals are as important, if not more important, than the content mastery goals.  The standards we have today should simply be tools for teachers and students to use to develop the students’ learning process skills.  Even the content goals that are not terribly interesting to students teach them things like perseverance and keeping an open mind.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

ACCOMPLISH A TASK
to find your balance

 

At times when I feel unmotivated and don’t feel like I have the energy to do anything, I find that if I accomplish a small task, such as wiping the kitchen counters, making my bed, or straightening the living room, my motivation builds.  Sometimes it takes doing 2 or 3 of those small tasks before I have the energy to tackle a larger one; sometimes I still don’t feel like doing much, but at least a go a couple of little things done.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

LET GO OF DREAD
to find your balance

 

How often is there something we don’t want to do and we think about it a week or more ahead of time?  For example, a tough parent meeting, we think about it, worry about it and talk about how much we are not looking forward to it for all the days leading up to this meeting. 

 

Our dread is now causing this meeting to be days long instead of just the hour for which it was scheduled.  If we could let go of the dread, not only will the meeting be just the hour for which it was scheduled, we will also have more energy and a calmer heart with which to go to this meeting.

 

                                                            Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
to find your balance

 

Sometimes a simple change of perspective can make things feel better.  As summer comes to a close, we can see that we only have 2 weeks or even 1 week left.  However, if it was during the school year, we are often very happy to have a whole week off. 

 

Even when we get down to 3 days left, during the school year we are very happy to have a 3-day weekend.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

TAKE BACK TIME
to find your balance

 

The phrase “I don’t have time” gives away your control.  There is always “time”, 24 hours each day, 7 days each week, it never changes.  Perhaps the task for which you don’t have time is not your priority at this point, perhaps you simply don’t want to do the task or perhaps you don’t have the energy to accomplish it and simply need to take time to reenergize.  Maybe if we start thinking in priorities we will start to find a better balance.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR INNER CHILD
to find your balance

 

Young children are naturally creative, confident, open minded and willing to try new things.  As we reconnect with our inner child, we re-realize dreams, become more creative, and are less worried about looking like we don’t know what we are doing. Some ways to get in touch with your inner child are to write a letter to or from the child you once were, to play, to color, to dance and sing...

The better in touch with your inner child you are the more creative you can become.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

KEEPING A GROWTH MINDSET
to find your balance

 

Good teachers can have skills and talents, but without an open, critical mind they’ll miss the mark in their efforts to serve their students as well as possible. A consequence of a closed mind is that we either get stuck in the rut of what used to work very well or might completely abandon good practices for new ideas that have their own strengths and weaknesses... Education needs to be an ongoing process not only for the learner and the teacher, but also for the entire educational system.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

USING MATHEMATICAL LITERATURE
to find your balance

 

Mathematical literature is an underutilized resource.  Greg Tang is one of my favorites.  He uses poetry to create number stories.  Perhaps when you are teaching a unit on poetry in reading or creative writing, why not introduce Greg Tang?  The beauty of mathematical literature is that even the books written at most basic reading levels can help students make complex mathematical connections.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

OBSERVING MORE
to find your balance

 

As teachers, we very often need to make judgments about our students.  In which areas do they need improvement? Are our students reading on grade level? Do they have the skills they need?  Perhaps if we take time to simply observe what they do and reflect it back to our students and/or their parents we can promote a more collaborative environment during conferences.  For example, instead of using a judgmental statement like “Johnny is having trouble with math,” describe what he is doing to make you think that. (e.g. He is always the last one working on his math assignment; he counts on his fingers every time he solves an addition problem.)

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

TEACHING METACOGNITION
to find your balance

 

How often do students tell you “I just knew the answer”? As students practice thinking about what they think as they read, solve math problems or even argue with friends, they become deeper thinkers and better learners.  I have found the way my students are most encouraged to grow in metacognition is through listening carefully to and restating what they say without judgment or interjecting my own thoughts.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

FOCUSING ON PROCESS STANDARDS
to find your balance

 

In the Common Core Math, they call them “Standards of Mathematical Practice” and in Language Arts they call them “Anchor Standards”.  Even in the Next Gen Science Standards they include process skills.  These skills and practices are seen at every grade level because these are the abilities and habits of mind students need to have in order to continue to learn and grow intellectually.  Looking at content standards as a means to building these competences, rather than as the end goal, may help us to balance our teaching a little more.

 

                                                                        Don’t forget to find today’s balance!