Achieving Balance…or NOT!

balancequoteThere is a lot of talk about balance, work-life balance. At one time I read a book about achieving balance. It recommended you plan out your day and prioritize what percentage of your day gets that amount of your focused attention. While in theory that sounded like a great idea, in reality it didn’t work… at least not for me.

I am naturally a guilt ridden person. It seems to have been part of my DNA. When I attempted the prioritize and percentage-ize approach, my guilt compounded. If, for example, I had spent too much time working on developing new relationships with people and not enough time building my professional learning… I would kick myself. This did not seem like balance. Balance was supposed to bring me a sense of contentment, happiness, if you will.

Since that time I have been married for 20 years, become a mother of two (now 12 years old and 9 years old), owner of numerous pets, and home owner 5 times over.  I have also been an educator for over 15 of those years.

Colossians 3 v 14I have learned that it is important to have goals, a schedule, a plan, and, of course, a life.  Most important, though, is a life that has purpose and that doesn’t always seem very balanced… but is very fulfilling. My day may be scheduled with all sorts of tasks, but the most important things will be the moments I didn’t plan for that utilize the purpose I was designed to fulfill. I cannot turn away an educator, student or parent in need… whatever that need may be. If I am to truly believe students come first, or rather people come first (Love others above all else), then when a need arises that becomes what must be addressed. Their need is the most important thing happening to them, and in my role, if I am to put people first, I can’t turn them away because it simply doesn’t fit into my pre-planned schedule. So how do I stay the course on my own journey and impact the lives of others? I plan for the unexpected. Never do I put more on my calendar than an unexpected event can’t be accommodated. If I have a very busy schedule one day, I plan for a more open day the next. If I have a deadline coming up, I work in time to accomplish that task piece by piece so that I am not with my back against a wall to meet that deadline and faced with a dilemma at the same time of someone in need.

So I believe there is not a real “balance” per se. You plan for the unexpected, set goals for yourself, and ultimately seek to fulfill the purpose you were designed to be. Some days your schedule may look like a perfect pie-chart of prioritized percentages, but if you are like me…. the pie chart is never the same on any given day… but the life I leave is divinely wonderful. I am satisfied with my life when I end my day, my week and my school year knowing my impact and connections with students, educators, parents and community has made a difference in the lives of many in such a way it will send ripples of positive change for years to come.

How are you choosing to choose the life un-balanced but completely fulfilled and purposeful?

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Learning Is “Egg”cellent Even for the “Egg”spert

EggspertFor the past few springs in our district our Elementary Science Coordinator @tkmotley attempts to provide every elementary classroom K-5 a “live animal” for the life science curriculum. In first grade this means “chicks.” Yes, the furry, yellow, cheeping kind.

However, the “chicks” don’t come chirping. Our students, district-wide, get the thrill of waiting 21 days and learning about the developmental process along the way before the the little yellow chirpers break from their protective white shell.

The “potential chicks,” or eggs, are kept in an incubator in each campus’ library. A live U-Stream video through a webcam is set up so that parents, students and teachers can monitor the progress 24/7. Along the way the first grade students research, learn and develop an understanding of this animal’s life-cycle.

In the past they relied on safe research databases like NetTrekker, books and other resources for the majority of their information. This year, however, some of the campuses wanted to bring in an outside expert, a poultry science major.

Now for some finding this type of expert might seem daunting, but not me.  You see, I know one personally. This wasn’t just any expert, this one happened to be my very own husband. We met while attending the University of Arkansas. We actually worked together for income, while in college, at a poultry research facility ran by the College of Poultry Sciences at the University of Arkansas. So this Poultry Science Major, my husband, coaxed by me, agreed to a Skype session with 6 first grade classes at one of the elementary campuses I support as an Instructional Technology Coach.

I have done other Skype sessions for a variety of purposes with a variety of experts. So it started off as just another session to transform learning for the teachers and students I support.

The session was perfection. My husband, Eric, shared with them his knowledge of egg hatching and chickens, the process, specific technical terms beyond their own need-to-know academic vocabulary, and graciously answered all of their questions with the right amount of detail and specificity a first grader should have. He carefully addressed the questions of morbidity and shared statistics of viability, without a single child becoming upset.

When it was all said and done, the teachers were ecstatic, the students were buzzing with new information, and my husband was grinning a big dopey grin.

Later, once I was home, we talked about the event. He was thrilled. Mind you he hasn’t been near any kind of poultry in over 15 years and presently works in a plant the produces confections (candy) of all kinds. However, today he was the “Egg”spert for over 100 first graders and his knowledge was valued.

What I learned from this is that often the expert for any event like this receives just as much as the students with which the knowledge is being shared. Connecting real world people to our classrooms is not just needed for the students, it is invaluable to those we invite to share their knowledge with us.

Connecting one another on a global level, connects us not just through knowledge but through our humanity.

On a side note… Eric plans to connect with two classrooms, maybe more… and he cannot wait.

How are  you connecting your classrooms with the world… or better yet how are you sharing with the world the opportunity to connect with your learners?