Life is all about balance-balancing responsibility, time, relationships, and more. I struggle every day with making sure that my life is balanced in every way which is why I wanted to dedicate this post to that very thing. Over the past year, my life has gone through tremendous change-we moved a little over a year ago, I started a new teaching position last year, I completed graduate school in December and my most favorite of all was having my beautiful son eleven months ago. It has been a season of transition and change and has taught me some lessons on how to bring balance into my life. It is a struggle every day to make sure that I am meeting the needs of every direction I am pulled, but I've learned a few things that have helped as I've adapted and grown into all of the roles that I'm in.
The first thing that I've learned has been to utilize my time. There isn't a lot of time in the school day (or at home) that is left untouched, but I have tried to maximize the time that I do have. That means that I may not stop and have a lengthy conversation in the hallway (though there is a time and place for that), and I may work on projects during my lunch. I continually am evaluating how I am spending the time that I've been given and personally addressing how I can maximize it to get the most work done for the greatest benefit. I don't feel bad when I need a break and five minutes to just sit and be, but most of the time I am trying to use every second I have to get work done. This allows me to need to spend less time before or after work to complete the tasks I am needing to do.
The next thing that I've learned is the importance of knowing yourself. Some of us are morning people, and some of us are night people, and some of us are neither morning or night people. It is incredibly important to know when you are in the zone. For me, I do my best work in the morning. I've always known I was a morning person, but it didn't truly hit me how I was working against myself until this fall when I was writing my capstone paper for my masters degree. I would typically sleep as late as I could, get up and get ready for work then work on my paper at night. What I found was that I was too tired in the evening to be fully alert and I wasn't putting my best work out there. It hit me to switch my working time to where I was waking up early to work, then having my day and using the evening to relax. I was getting better work done in sometimes half the time. Do I wish I had put this into practice sooner in my graduate school? YOU BET! But the same goes for teaching. I have always realized that I got far more done and done more effectively when I would get to school early and get as much work as possible done. At the end of the day, I was zonked and would leave when our contract time was up. There are some people who can't operate that way. They need to come in right as school is starting and get more done working after school than before. There is not right or wrong way to approach this, only to know and understand yourself so that you are able to get your best work done most effectively.
The last thing I want to emphasize when searching for you home and work life balance is the importance of having a plan. I am a planner person-I like the old fashioned, write it down, not digital kind of planner. I spend some time each week making a plan of attack for the week. This helps me know what my goals are for each day. There are too many things that pop up throughout the week to wing it for me. I find that when I have a plan, I know my goals and what my focus is, and I can fit those "other" things into that. I love to write in my planner and I especially love to cross things off my to do list. You may prefer a digital planner, checklist or calendar. Whatever helps you, create a plan for the week so that you aren't trying to do too much at once (and definitely include some time to "sharpen the saw", however that may be).
We all search for balance in what we are doing because we are not one dimensional beings. I hope by using these techniques, effectively utilizing your time, knowing when you do your best work and having a plan, you are able to find a little more work and home balance in your life. I am always looking for new ideas, so if you have ideas on how you find balance, leave a comment below! I am so happy we get to start 2020 off together and I can't wait for all the learning that this year will bring.
I am so excited that spring has finally arrived. These last few months have been busy in the most fun ways, while also the most challenging time as well. We have had a lot going on in our lives that I am so excited to share with you!
My husband and I rescued a dog this spring. His name is Winston. He is our favorite little Puggle (pug & beagle mix) and has been such a fun addition to our little family. I have spent many years asking for a dog, and we finally decided it was the right time. I would like to think that it was due to me being the most spectacular persuasive letter writing teacher there ever was (as getting a dog is our topic yearly) but I think it has more to do with patience and persistence.
This spring, I have been working through my first semester of graduate school. I have been in the most interesting classes and have really enjoyed what I'm learning. I have had to focus on being incredibly scheduled to make sure everything gets done, but it has been a spectacular experience. I have also been blogging for the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies at Texas A&M (ogaps.tamu.edu/Blog) so if you are interested in some of the blogs I've published through them, go check it out!
Between a new dog, graduate school, getting ready for testing, and balancing family and friends, it can sometimes be an overwhelming amount. As exciting as the spring season is, it can bring on a lot of stress for educators. I am really trying to focus this year on how to not let that stress get me down. I have found, personally, that Winston has been a great distraction. Each day, we go out on a couple of walks which is not only healthy exercise, but gets me out of the house and into the fresh air. I also think another way to energize your spring is to find a great conference or book that you are really interested in. You can check out my 2017 and 2018 book lists for book suggestions. Recently I've finished Wonder, A Wrinkle in Time and am almost done with Towers Falling. Finding something that recharges you and renews your excitement for learning at this time of the year is a great way to bring back your spring! Lastly, don't forget to spend quality time with your family and friends. It can be so tempting to work so much that we get home and have nothing left in the tank for those closest to us, but don't fall into that trap. Pick a day that you leave earlier each week, without question. If that doesn't work for you, set a time that you will be done and leave work, and don't pick up work again until you return the next day. Both of those are great ways to make sure that you give your best at work and at home. What we do is incredibly important, but we can't forget the other people in our lives.
So today's post was just meant to be a quick update and some little tips on how to make your spring as fabulous as it can be. I will be blogging at OGAPS a couple of times a month, but will keep posting on here as well! Check out my other blogs and I hope that you have a great spring!
I am officially 6 weeks into my master's degree and I can honestly say I am loving every second of what I am learning. It has been the most informative, interesting, exciting time of my academic career thus far. With that said, I am not going to pretend teaching full-time and doing grad school is easy, because it's not. But I will give you a little insight into what I have learned over the past six weeks about surviving your career while working on a degree...
I consider myself an expert planner, but I have had to be EVEN MORE disciplined in my planning since I began. I started my semester going through my syllabus' and writing down every due date and assignment for the whole semester. This helped me to map out my weekly goals and when I wanted to accomplish each thing. This also helps to give me a heads up on those final projects that often sneak up on you. I can schedule my work for those out before I even start. I also use different colors to coordinate with my different classes. Visually, I am able to see what I have for each class without having to write the name down next to each assignment.
I have also found it incredibly important for myself to schedule in free time. I could work 'round the clock if I really wanted to, but it's not good for my health. I try to schedule in time to hang with my husband, catch dinner with friends and visit with family. I also try to schedule time to get out for a walk, go to the gym or hit up a yoga class. These times are paramount to my success academically and in my career. Without these times I don't think I would be able to have clarity of thought in the times that I am working or enjoy what I am doing as much as I do.
Now all of this planning working times and free times means nothing if I don't exercise self-discipline. My grad school is very different than my college experience because I am working full time, have bills to pay, have a husband to take care of and am completing my degree online, not in person. With all of these compounding factors, it would be easy to blow off my work to go out with friends, catch a movie or run to the mall. Those things are important to do, but ultimately I am the only one who can make the choice to complete what I need to get done. I find that if I have discipline in completing homework and work when I have it scheduled to complete, I have plenty of time for those extra things like free time to binge watch some TV and seeing family and friends.
I knew that it was the right move for me to begin working on my master's degree and I could not be more excited that I have. I can't wait to continue learning and growing as a person and educator. I know that these six semesters will go by in the blink of an eye and all this hard work, dedication and time will pay off in the end. If you want to know more about my grad school experience, feel free to message me or leave a comment and I would be happy to talk to you!
2018 Book List
I love to read. It is one of the things I enjoy doing most in my free time, but find that I have little time to do. Because of time, each year my goal is to just read 12 books of my choosing, one per month. I may read them all in a two month span, or spread them out-either way it averages out. I wanted to share with you the books I have chosen as my books for this year. Some of these are brand new, others have been in my shopping cart for a while and others I know very little about. I may change things up throughout the year and find other books that I want to add...I try to be flexible when it comes to my reading list. Be looking throughout the year on mentions of these books or reviews here on the blog as I definitely want to share my thoughts on these books and how they have helped me professionally, and personally. So here are my 2018 Book List picks:
1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
2. Talk Like Ted: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets by Carmine Gallo
3. The Wild Card: 7 Steps to an Educator's Creative Breakthrough by Wade King, Hope King
4. Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School by Mark Barnes, Jennifer Gonzalez
5. Lead Like a Pirate: Making School Amazing for Your Students and Staff by Shelley Burgess, Beth Houf
6. Integrating the Arts Across the Elementary School Curriculum by Phyllis Gelineau
7. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley, David Kelley
8. Creativity Rules: Getting Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the World by Tina Seelig
9. inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity by Tina Seelig
These last three I am leaving open as new books are released throughout the year or I come across other books I am interested in adding to my list.
I also wanted to share with you my list from 2017 as I feel it was an ALL STAR line up of books. I highly recommend these to anyone!
2017 Book List:
-Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth: 6 Truths that Will Help You THRIVE as an Educator by Aaron Hogan
-Shift This: How to Implement Gradual Change for Massive Impact in Your Classroom by Joy Kirr
-Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity and Transform Your Life as an Educator by Dave Burgess
-The Innovators Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent and Lead a Culture of Creativity by George Couros
-Kids Deserve It: Pushing Boundaries and Challenging Conventional Thinking by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome
-Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani
-Ditch that Homework: Practical Strategies to Help Make Homework Obsolete by Matt Miller and Alice Keeler
-Ditch that Textbook: Free Your Teaching and Revolutionize Your Classroom by Matt Miller
-Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Student by Spencer John and A.J. Juliani
-The Power of Branding: Telling Your School's Story by Tony Sinanis
-Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
-The Leader in Me by Stephen Covey
As I wrap up today I wanted to ask for any book recommendations from YOU! Have you read any of the books on my list? Happy Reading in 2018!