As we prepare for the new school year it’s important to think about balance. Granted, it’s hard the first few weeks of the year to find balance because of the sheer amount of work there is to do. But let’s face it, a teacher’s to do list is endless. If we don’t put a stop to it at some point then our whole lives become consumed.
You are probably thinking that I’m the type of person who does not find balance well. You would be right. I work way too much and I use it as an excuse to not do other things, such as go to the gym, while constantly doing some things like ordering pizza. One year it got so bad that I was on a first name basis with the guy from Art of Pizza. Not balance. I mean I really like my job and I enjoy researching and planning exciting things for my student to do. But that doesn’t mean I should ignore my own life.
This is a little pie chart I made on Chartle. It represents what I think of as a model for a potentially balanced life. Notice that teaching and professional development make up about a quarter of it. If I included the hours I spent at school then it would be about 3/4 of my life, but that’s a little depressing so I’m only looking at out of school hours. For me to only, yes only, spend this much time on teaching things (planning, research, poking about, grading, ect.) will be a major accomplishment and a feat of organization and prioritization. I’ve made the well being section large, almost as large as time with family and friends together. I want to make time for talking long walks, going to the gym, and preparing wholesome meals at home not grabbing breakfast form Starbucks. Don’t judge, you know you’ve done it. Please, there are days when I’ve had breakfast AND lunch from Starbucks. It’s like a cult.
I separated out Professional Development from regular teaching duties because I want to make sure I prioritize making time for reading books, going to conferences, and blogging. You’ll notice that the house section is tiny. I don’t need an obsessively clean house, I just need to not be nominated for an episode of Hoarders or mistake a layer of dog hair for new carpet. My friends and fun section includes things like hobbies or taking classes for fun.
I don’t know if I’ll stick to this plan. I’ll try. I know some weeks that teaching piece of the pie will grow. But if I honor those other pieces, even in small ways then I think I’ll be able to find more balance.