Back in January of 2016 I wrote a post about how my focus was going to be balance. It’s pretty interesting to see how the year transpired with that word guiding my work. There were ups and downs, but I’m sure glad I had that word in the back of my mind as we took on this huge shift in teaching and learning (#FCPSon) in our school. FCPSon is the hardest and most rewarding work I’ve done in the last decade and I’m thankful for the opportunity to shape our work!
I made several very tough choices this year in the name of balance. I chose not to work a second job this summer for the first time in the 13 years I’ve been in this district. I spent my month of July away from all connections in an RV with my family. It was glorious and really necessary as once I came back to town it was nonstop laptop distribution, planning and training for our new model of teaching and learning.
I’ve been practicing saying no – if I’m asked to do something that doesn’t serve our main goals of student engagement, meaningful learning experiences and relationships at our school or doesn’t spread the work we’re doing throughout the district, I say no. I’m happy to consult on a lot of these projects, but I can’t be a main player. One of the things I miss the most, that I said no to this year, is mentoring a new tech coach. This was a hard one for me as it’s something that feeds my own personal growth to help others learn (that’s why I’m a teacher, hah!) and I might add this back in next year since I’ve missed it so much.
Something else I’ve been practicing is being ok with things not being finished when I planned. This is REALLY tough for me, and I used to put lots of pressure on myself to finish everything on my own timeline, whether it was necessary or not. I’ve tried to let that go a bit because the work we are doing this year is never, ever done! Seriously, this #FCPSon work we’re doing is never ending! I’ve known that if I failed to finish something, it would be there tomorrow…but still always felt bad about it. This year, I’m still keeping my commitments, but I’m also working to not be so rigid and tough on myself. And you know what? Nothing at all has happened by letting this rest another day.
I’ve presented at conferences nearby (edtechRVA & VSTE) and far away (FETC & ISTE) and agreed to share what we’re learning this year both in person and online. I’ve spent time here on this blog, reflecting and sharing and visited other pyramids who expressed interest in our work as well as hosting visits from school teams. This is hard to balance with the work we’re doing with our own teachers. I’m still struggling to balance these. I know it’s so important to share the work we’re doing and get a broader perspective, yet I have more than enough to do with our teachers and students to keep me busy!
I feel like I’ve had a better home-life balance this year. I have taken time off, spent time away from my computer (and smart phone!) on many more days this year than previously. I’ve found time to visit family and friends, read personally as well as professionally, enjoyed time with friends at some awesome local places. I’ve spent more time with my love – we even took an extended cruise over spring break and a couple of small getaways in between to focus on us, rather than getting stuck in the day-to-day work spin cycle. I still have an always-on, always-learning mentality and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’ve been better at relaxing this year I think.
I definitely need to still work on the workouts and the outdoor time during the week. It’s tough for me to find the energy for these two on the weekdays after long, exhausting days.
Setting a #oneword intention for the year was really powerful for me. I hung my sketchnote image (above) on my board at my desk, so it was never far from my mind. It helped guide my decision making and kept a focus over all I did. I’m still trying to figure out my word for 2017 – stay tuned for that post coming soon!