If I could propose a buzzword du jour, I think it would be "balance."
I suck at balance.
I think I suck at balance because I have the chronic problem of trying to balance too many things at once. Which, now that I think about it, becomes a much larger (and much more delicate) balance between me and The Edge. Lately, I feel a bit like I'm staring over said Edge...I'm basically holding on by my fabulous heels. (Yes, Mommy Mimi is back in her heels and LOVING IT!)
As teachers, we have So. Much. To. Balance. (Secretly, I think we'd all be really good at juggling plates or flaming batons...comes with the territory.) We have to balance what we've learned in our latest professional development with what we think (and know) works for our friends. We have to balance what we are passionate about with what is mandated. We have to balance bathroom breaks with learning time. We have to balance our desire to stop and look at a topic deeply and the constant administrative drive to move on, move on, cover everything, don't stop, don't pass go and (for the love of God) DON'T collect $200, are you crazy? Teachers are overpaid and get summers off!
See? That last bit? That little sarcastic rant? It's those moments when I think The Edge just may be winning.
In Mrs. Mimi's world, the compulsion to pile things onto my proverbial plate bleeds into my personal life as well. Actually, if I'm honest with you (which I always am, my lovely readers), I think I function better when I have a lot going on. When my plate gets too empty, suddenly I find myself in front of the TV watching hours of Golden Girls re-runs and wondering where my afternoon went. Again, though, it's all about balance. How much can I pile on so that I stay productive and don't tip the scales over to Crazed Whirlwind of Activity Yet Actually Finish Nothing Town. That place blows.
I'm currently working with teachers. I heart me some teachers. And I'm watching these teachers struggle with balance as well (which is what leads me to think it's one of our occupational hazards). I'm trying to help them balance new, purposeful strategies for teaching with what they feel comfortable doing in their classrooms. And I'm seeing them trying to balance new ideas that they are excited about with how much change they realistically think they can handle.
Friends, I think I have had a revelation.
The more we push on teachers, asking them to reshuffle their already very delicate balance, the more resistant teachers are going to become. And can you blame them? Forget about having a healthy work-life balance...most teachers are just trying to balance the demands of their work life enough to get through the day without feeling like they just went into battle. Yet instead of respecting that balance, acknowledging that balance, being real about the balance, what happens? More and more and MORE gets put on the teachers plate and then, that finger gets pointed when the teacher fails to achieve the perfect balance. Does it feel like a finger-pointing set up to anyone else?
If we want things to change, and I think all of us do, the first step may be toward acknowledging what a teacher ALREADY HAS on her plate. Then, wouldn't it make much more sense to strategically remove some of those responsibilities before adding on even more? Don't we want teachers to be able to focus their energies and achieve a successful balance? Because right now, it feels like The Powers That Be are just looking for a plate to dump all their problems on.
I don't know about you, but my plate is full. Grab a fork and help me if you want...