Pausing A #PukeAlert Thanks To The Triangulation Of Data

Not too long before I went to bed last night, I sent out this tweet.

I was inundated with kind words of support, which made me realize once again just how wonderful online networks can be. It was this comment from Faige Meller though, which made me take my personal woes and start looking beyond just me.

This is my 18th year teaching. I’ve been through many evaluation experiences, and I know what to expect. I realize that I should take Kristi‘s advice and try breathing … A LOT. 🙂

But it was reflecting more on Faige’s words and my connection to them, which caused me to see a different perspective. Yes, I want my principal John‘s visit to be a great one. I want him to see in kids what my teaching partner, Paula, and I see every day. I want him to …

  • see the great thinking,
  • hear the problem solving,
  • notice the multiple entry points,
  • and experience the joyful learning that is truly a reality of a play-based classroom program!

I would be lying if I said that I won’t feel the evaluation lens that comes from a more formalized visit, no matter how well John tries to put me at ease. He actually came by yesterday, as I happened to be leading a similar transitional activity to the one that he’ll observe more formally for my TPA (Teacher Performance Appraisal).

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Thanks to @paulacrockett who recorded some of this transitional activity this morning. It started with a phonological awareness game, where students had to work with rhyming words, initial sounds, blending sounds, and syllables to figure out some words in a story. I had a few children write down some of our special words. This allowed them to match the words to print. They all read me their lists later. There are some short videos of N. and Leah doing so. I noticed that Leah found a few of the longer words harder to read. I wonder if blending them together in chunks might help. We then looked at a few mixed up vowel sounds. (This happened during play.) After the phonological awareness activity this morning, we had a quick math talk based on a photograph. I had children turn and talk about the picture before sharing their thinking together with the group. We really focused on subitizing, one-to-one correspondence, and adding small groups of objects together to get new amounts. It was interesting to see a few different children share with the full class today. I wonder if the chance to talk first helps generate ideas for further discussion. SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram

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This video was taken by @paulacrockett as kids were writing down some of the words that we brainstormed as a full group today, and others helped blend the sounds together on the carpet. I’m always thinking about those that are participating and those that are not. Sometimes stopping to give students a more specific question just for them, helps. Sometimes I wonder if hearing the language can be beneficial, and then skills can be even more targeted in small groups. Thoughts? What do you do? I also think that I need to reinforce for tomorrow that the writers don’t have to worry about getting every word down. For them, it’s about matching the oral to print. I will highlight this during a similar activity tomorrow. Grateful for the opportunity to reflect thanks to @paulacrockett’s recording! ❤️ #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram

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And while he did nothing more than sit down and smile, I could feel my stomach doing flip-flops as soon as I noticed him.

  • I became that much more aware of what every child was doing or not doing.
  • I became that much more in-tuned to my words and actions.
  • And I became that much more critical of myself … needing to remind myself in my head to stay responsive to kids, and not hyper-focused on the principal.

When the lesson was done and John left, I breathed again. Then I sat out in the hallway over the nutrition break, and watched, listened to, and reflected on every minute of the recording (of which only a portion is shared above). As I started to think about what I could do better tomorrow (now being today), I realized something that came to me again last night. 

  • Like a test or an exam, an evaluation is just a snapshot in time.

Once again, I’m grateful for our Daily Shoot Blog Posts, where my principal can experience each of our days, every single day. Any moment he sees in a formal evaluation, he will see many more times, informally. My final evaluation report won’t be based on a couple of observations, but the package of experiences that he can observe and reflect on thanks to our online sharing. Don’t get me wrong! I may still have a #kinderchat #pukealert if the formal observations don’t go as planned, but I can then remember that these aren’t everything.

And so comes today, when something happened with this evaluation that I did not expect

As I wait to see about rescheduling today, I decided to use this Snow Day for something good.

Proofreading these Communications of Learning, and thinking more about reporting as well as Teacher Performance Appraisals, I was reminded about the triangulation of data. Thanks to Growing Success, marks are determined based on …

  • observations,
  • conversations,
  • and work products.

While we don’t give marks in Kindergarten, our Growing Success Addendum still highlights the value in all three of these components, with “demonstrations of learning” being our term for “work products.” Maybe my TPA is the same. The process allows for observations, conversations, and samples of work to act as proof to support my professional growth. A couple of visits do not determine my “pass” or “failure.” This may be the very thinking that helps calm my anxious stomach. What about for our kids then? How are we ensuring that it’s not just the test or assignment that determines the grade? I wonder how many kids might feel as I do, and if it’s the balance of these three areas that might also make the difference for them.

Aviva

Taking This K Team On The Road: Adventures In Learning At The Hamilton-Wentworth Principals’ Conference

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to present at different workshops and conferences. I always enjoy this chance to connect with others, share ideas, but also receive feedback, which ultimately leads to some new learning for me. Today’s session at the HWPC Conference (Principals’ Conference) might have been one of my favourites. Why? Because of the partnership!

Not only am I grateful that the HWPC (Hamilton-Wentworth Principals’ Council) asked me to facilitate a session on Self-Reg, but they did not ask me alone: they asked both my teaching partner, Paula, and I to do so. This speaks to how much they value us as a team, but also to how much they value multiple perspectives within their professional development. It’s a small action, but with a very big impact!

As two Kindergarten educators, it’s probably no surprise that …

  • we came with the most supplies. 🙂 We were tempted to bring our huge stick weaving tree as a Self-Reg option, but we couldn’t get it into the car. Now that would have truly been a conference surprise! 🙂

  • we used the constructivist approach to help build learning together. Paula and I thought a lot about some advice shared by one of our superintendents, Sue Dunlop, a number of years ago. Each of today’s sessions were 75 minutes. That’s a lot of talking time, and we know that nobody wants to sit and listen to us for that long. We also know that everybody in the room is coming with different experience and viewpoints, and there’s a great opportunity here for people to learn from each other … and push each other’s thinking. We tried to capitalize on that today, and the discussions were so incredibly rich. It made us sad to end them.

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Different photographs from our #hwpc2019 session today. So interesting to first see what administrators chose as their @self_reg options. For our first session, it was all about reading and colouring: quiet choices. Could this be due to it being the second day of a conference with lots of socializing time? Was there a draw to some silence? With a smaller group and a lack of interest in the more physical options, did those that might have picked these other choices not have done so, as others were not there? (One participant mentioned this as he reflected on the choices.) In the second session, there was far more interest in the movement choices. We even got a group of administrators playing a rubber chicken throwing game in the hall. ❤️❤️❤️ There was also more socializing, even at the more independent spaces. Was this talking time needed then? Did the connections people already had to others in the room influence this? So much to think about! ❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #iteach #teachersofinstagram

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By presenting together though, we were not alone in observing and reflecting on today’s conversations. Just as we do in the classroom, we tried to capture the learning, reflect on what we heard, and make meaning out of what we observed. As we both resisted the urge to fall asleep on our ride back home, we spent time talking about our sessions, our observations, and our wonders. This time to converse with somebody that shares the same experience with you, but also pushes you to see things differently, was so incredibly valuable. It’s what’s missing from a session alone. 

Today I was reminded about the value in a strong partnership, the need for multiple perspectives in professional development, and the need for “talk time” to get to that uncomfortable place where learning happens. Thanks to our eager session participants, who got involved, engaged us in discussion, and left us leaving for home with full minds and happy hearts.

How do we create more opportunities for multiple educational stakeholders to construct knowledge together? The potential for greatness definitely exists with this!

Aviva

The Mega Milk Box Debate: Student Experiences With Some Good Stress

As I’ve blogged about before, I believe that there’s a lot of value in teaching kids how to solve their own problems and giving them opportunities to do so. Since teaching kindergarten with Paula, I’ve become better at letting kids problem solve more. It’s not always easy though, and some days, I know that I intervene more than I should. Yesterday, really taught me just how much kids can do if we give them the chance.

It all started soon after Paula went on her lunch. Two groups of children wrote me notes, asking to return the milk box. I got the notes at almost exactly the same time, so what should I do? I decided to let the kids do some problem solving. Instead of writing each of them back — as I often do — I wrote one note to the four of them. This note led to an hour-long problem solving experience, which then extended past that when two of them returned the milk box. I think that these Instagram posts tell the “milk box problem” the best, so I’m going to try to let the documentation speak for itself.

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This experience from today evolved into one of my favourite learning opportunities of all time. I had a problem. Both Duncan and Joshua and Mya and Leah wrote me milk notes. We only return the milk bins now, so who could go? I got the notes at the same time. They thought that all four of them could go, but I said only two at a time. Now what? They started to discuss some solutions, which at first was going to be resolved by a thumb war. I gave them a calendar, and wondered about the possibility of a schedule. There was still a problem, as for different reasons, they all felt as though they should go today. The conversation continues … I watched, but with no fighting and respectful dialogue, I kept my distance. ❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram

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This is where things got really interesting. They couldn’t resolve the problem by talking, so Joshua and Duncan walked away from the table to converse privately. They decided to write a note to Leah and Mya instead. They’re really considering what details to add to convince them that they should do this job today. Their note inspired Leah and Mya to write back, and resulted in a note writing exchange that moved from the table to the carpet. They were so independent and respectful here, that I had to watch from a distance. As hard as it was, I wanted to let them solve this problem. I then went on my lunch, and returned to the problem solved and everyone happy. How?! If I made the decision, there would have certainly been tears. So how did they figure this out? Leah said that they said “please,” and Joshua agreed to let them bring back the box. Joshua explained that he got to “write the names with Duncan,” and they took back the box. So Joshua and Duncan did the work and Leah and Mya got to return the box? Joshua feels as though “it’s all part of the same job.” Maybe they see the job differently than us. Maybe for them, the name writing is just as enjoyable. So what did these notes say? Joshua thought that they were on the carpet. Leah and Mya went looking. Stay tuned! SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram

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Here’s just some of the note exchange around the milk box delivery. Somehow I managed to miss taking a photograph of my favourite note, in which Leah and Mya say that they will be “heart broken,” if they can’t deliver the box back. The best find though was at the end of the day, when @paulacrockett and I found Leah and Mya’s “thank you note” to Joshua and Duncan. Not prompted. Not edited. And totally child-initiated and from the heart. ❤️❤️❤️ Such a good reminder to me to let kids work through some stress on their own. I could have intervened so many times, and was tempted to do so, but I didn’t. Kids showed just how “competent and capable” they are! ❤️❤️❤️SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram

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There were so many times during this problem solving experience that I was tempted to intervene. When Joshua and Duncan first walked away from the problem, I saw their stress. Joshua told me that he “really, really, really wanted to return the milk box today and tomorrow.” I said, “But there’s no milk on Saturday.” Holding back tears, he said, “But I still really want to return it.” I saw that the two boys were upset, and I tried to interrupt the problem with the suggestion to grab their lunches and take a break. Joshua looked at me and said, “No, I don’t want to eat right now. I need to talk to Duncan.” And so, they sat down and spoke, and this is what eventually inspired the back-and-forth letter writing experience, which ended in a way that I did not expect. 

I kept trying to watch the students from afar. It’s why my photographs are a little blurry at times, as I knew that if I got closer, I would somehow get involved. There was no question that these kids were stressed, but they were also working it through.

  • They decided to write the notes.
  • They decided to respond to each other in notes.
  • And they eventually decided how the situation would end.

There were no hurt feelings or angry students when I returned from my lunch break. Even though Paula and I were surprised with the outcome — and how they eventually decided to split the task it worked for them. As Joshua said, “It’s all part of the same job.” Maybe as adults, we see things differently, and maybe what we consider is important to kids is actually not as important as we think. If nothing else, this highlighted for me why we need to let kids work through problems — even some challenging ones — on their own.

I think that stress — especially stress when it comes to kids — is something that we often try to avoid. I understand why.

  • It’s scary.
  • It often causes upset.
  • And we truly wonder if our students are equip to work it through.

But yesterday, I watched some of our youngest learners struggling with some good stress, and I started to see the value in this kind of struggle. Our Kindergarten Program Document, emphasizes the view of the child as “competent and capable of complex thought.” Without a doubt, this milk box experience highlighted just how true these words are. I couldn’t be happier that I resisted the urge to intervene and let these four students embrace the struggle. It makes me wonder how I might respond in similar situations from now on. How do you let students deal with stress? What might be the benefits in doing so? These four five-year-olds definitely showed just how much hard work and problem solving can go into something as simple as returning a milk box.

Aviva

Educating Grayson: How Do We Make Inclusion Work?

I remember many years ago now inviting the Autism Team from our Board into my primary classroom. I was teaching a child with autism, and I was really struggling. This wasn’t my first time working with a student who had autism. I have a background working with children with special needs, and having grown up with a step-dad who was a Special Education teacher and a mom who was a Speech Language Pathologist (retired now), teaching children with a variety of needs was my normal. It was actually what I was most passionate about! But this child in my class was pushing me to some new limits. Nothing seemed to be working for her. I had a full-time E.A. (Educational Assistant) at the time — a novelty now, I realize — but even with this support, the child was running out of the classroom, screaming, hitting, biting, and throwing items. How was this fair to the other kids? How was this fair to me? I worked closely with the principal and vice principal at the time, and we arranged to bring in the Autism Team for some new ideas, but maybe also as a check mark for an eventual special class placement. What I wasn’t prepared for was the response that I got when they came in.

As I mentioned before, this was not my first time teaching students with autism.

  • We had a visual schedule on the chalkboard.
  • I created a consistent routine for her.
  • We used social stories.
  • We used a First/Then Board.

Well, when the team members came in and spoke to me, I left feeling as though I was the worst teacher out there. I totally broke down. Heaving sobs. They wanted me to change my classroom around for one child. Why? After I got past the upset and stopped taking everything so personally, I began to consider their suggestions. While I questioned their value at the time, I decided that I needed to try what they said before dismissing their ideas. And so, I sat down with the EA, and together, we developed a plan.

  • I got some yellow paper to frame the schedule cards on the board, so that they stood out.
  • I made a stick to track where we were on the schedule at each time of the day, and I started to reference this schedule as I was teaching. 
  • I created a small set of cards for this child to use, which reflected the same schedule on the board. Then she could set up her day and track her schedule throughout the day.
  • I stopped talking so much. I began to master the art of pointing, saying single word utterances, remaining consistent, being patient, and trying very hard to stay calm. I used visuals for everything! When this child then learned to read, I replaced some pictures with individual words, but again, relying on a card instead of on a spoken word.
  • I made an independent work area for the child. I didn’t replace this space with her other space as part of a group, but instead, provided an additional area for her to work in the room when needed. 
  • I learned how to create a task analysis, and I made one for everything. She loved to check off what she did, so I provided a check off system for her. I started by grouping words with images, and eventually, moved to just using words. 
  • I got better at understanding the need for breaks and rewards. These don’t work for all children, but they are what she needed, so I worked both into her schedule.
  • I got better at watching kid connections. While this child did not look at other children, she did want to connect with them. She touched their faces, she rubbed their arms, and sometimes, she’d even scream to get their attention. At first, I was so focused on her “using words,” until I realized that she was using the methods that she could to interact with others. Who did she want to interact with most? Who looked to interact with her? I tried to capitalize on these positive connections to help her, but also to build empathy and respect in others. 
  • I learned how to better respond to meltdowns. I may not have known about Stuart Shanker‘s work at the time, but there was a bit of Self-Reg thinking in my response. I started to realize that if she was dysregulated, getting in her face to talk to her was just going to lead to her lashing out. I needed to give her a chance to calm down first. Also, if she ran and I chased her, she just ran more … so someone might need to follow behind her and watch, but not chase. 

At the time, I basically turned our classroom on its head. I thought, “Why am I doing all of this for one child?” But then, I learned something unexpected: this changed the child, but also every other child in that class. 

  • Kids learned how to be more patient and kind.
  • Tracking the schedule for her, also made other kids more aware of our day, and reduced their stress. Behaviours that I noticed in the classroom previously, were no longer occurring with such frequency. 
  • A little less talking was good for everyone. I became more aware of my word choice, but I also learned how to listen more to children. And the more that I listened, the more that I learned.
  • I realized that everyone can use independent spaces. While I didn’t create assigned independent areas for everyone, I became more flexible with how students used our space. They started to find their own nooks to work, and I let them. 
  • I realized that breaking down tasks helps even more kids accomplish them with success. I began to use big visuals with everyone in the class to help with following multiple step directions, and it turned out that I didn’t have to re-explain as many activities when I used this approach. 
  • I became more receptive to different approaches for different kids, even when some of the approaches were not my favourite ones. It turned out that a couple of kids in this class would benefit from a first/then reward system and a few breaks throughout the day, and when I provided both, behaviours decreased. 
  • Kids became way more accepting of each other. I never thought that true friendships would form between this child and the other children in the class. They were so different. The problem though was with me. When I taught kids about equity (and giving every child what he/she need to be successful), the students became way more accepting of differences. They wanted to include this student, and realized that they even have some similar interests (around favourite Disney princesses and favourite activities to do). When one student brought in a birthday party invitation for this child, I could have cried. This student was only allowed to invite a few children to her party, and she made her new friend, one of them. The mom arranged to come, and they made the party happen. I couldn’t have been happier! Kindness wins! 
  • Students also learned how to respond to meltdowns. They could often predict when these meltdowns might happen (e.g., when she started to get really silly and laugh hysterically), and tried to support her in calming down. If this didn’t work, they realized (and articulated) that what she did was not her fault. They let the meltdown happen, they gave her space, but they also, welcomed working and playing with her again. 

When this school year started, I thought that this child was definitely a special class candidate. I was sure that this is what she needed. But it took somebody to push me to make changes and try some different approaches to see what was possible for this child. Years later, she went from 1:1 support to just drop-in EA support. This child changed in the most incredible of ways, and I cried again when I heard that she was going into a special class. Maybe this is what she needed at the time, and I’ve heard that she’s been incredibly successful in her placements since then, but I also wondered what else might be possible. This student started Grade 1 almost non-verbal and completely EA dependent, and is now in high school: verbal, reading, writing, and even communicating her thinking (in various degrees) to others. She became independent enough to email her mom when she needed something, and even head to the washroom and the water fountain on her own, without fear of her running. Those same kids that supported her in my primary classroom became some of her greatest supporters and her consistent peer group, even years later. Their friendship might not have been the same as it was back then, but they still cared for, accepted, and included this child in the most authentic of ways. 

It’s because of this student that this article that Valerie Bennett shared is one of my favourites. I thought of my previous student as I read Maureen Rich Wallace’s story, and I truly believe that both kids, and so many others, belong in “your child’s class.” Maybe this is why I had such an emotional response when I read, Educating Grayson: Are Inclusive Classrooms Failing Students? I think that the problem is not with inclusive education, but instead with the learning for educators around how to effectively create these spaces. I know that it’s not easy. I realize problems exist around …

  • budgeting for enough support staff,
  • teacher training,
  • classroom numbers,
  • and classroom makeup.

But I keep thinking back to this experience of mine from so many years ago. I was ready to give every reason that this Team’s suggestions could not work, and they were all good reasons. Instead I tried a different approach. I chose to follow the suggestions, questioning their value, but thinking this was just another hoop to jump through. In the end, I gained a new perspective on kids, needs, inclusion, and education, and had one of the most fulfilling and incredible experiences of my teaching career. It was the kind of experience that changed me as a teacher. In my mind, we’re in teaching for kids, so how do we create inclusive classrooms where all children can succeed? Some might consider this a utopian ideal. Instead, I’d like to think about Grayson’s story and the conversations around it, as the starting point for change. What about you?

Aviva

Flipping The Balance Paradigm: My #OneWordONT Goal That Was Not To Be

A few weeks ago when I wrote my #onewordONT post on play, I actually had a different word in mind. I was finally going to look at balance. I know that it appears as though I’m not good with “balance.” I spend a lot of time on classroom work, and even in the evenings and on the weekend, I’m usually doing something for school. This doesn’t mean that I give up on non-school related activities. I love going out with friends (especially for brunch on the weekend), I’m a passionate reader (and always find a few minutes to read, even if it’s really late at night), and I’ve decided to get back into some exercising (devoting at least 30 minutes a day to riding my stationary bike). The problem is, I kind of want it all. And there are only so many minutes in the day to do everything.

Earlier this year, I took a Teacher Leadership Course through our Board. When the course began, we also had a student teacher in our classroom, so much of the prep time that I spend on documenting and reflecting on student learning, I now spent with our student teacher. It didn’t take long for me to start to feel overwhelmed with all of the work to do. Between our weekly course work, school work, and student teacher support, I found myself lucky to be getting four hours of sleep on most nights of the week … and I’ve been so much better at getting at least 6 to 7 hours of sleep after reading Sue Dunlop’s blog post a few years agoI was beginning to wonder if taking the course was the right decision for me. Did I need to find a way to achieve some balance?

When my student teacher finished her placement, my routine went back to normal. Even with the course work, I was really only tackling one late night a week. Once again, I was settling into the flow of my new normal: course work + teaching work + life. And then the Leadership Course ended, and I was enjoying a little extra time in my days. Is this what “balance” feels like? It wasn’t long though before I was presented with a conundrum. I noticed that our Board was offering Reading Part 2, and I was eager to take it. 

  • I loved the first reading course.
  • I know that reading is still a priority in our schools.
  • This course would just expand on my knowledge of reading instruction. 

I didn’t need the course, but I wanted it. Here’s my problem though: it’s a Part 2 course, which likely means a heavier workload, and at a time when I’m just settling into a nice groove between work and life. How will this course impact on my attempt at “balance?” 

I vacillated for a long time, but in the end, I registered for the course. Why? A question from a Starbucks barista was actually what helped me solidify my answer. One morning, I went in to get a coffee on my way to school. The barista asked me, “Where are you off to so early in the morning?” I had to stop to consider my answer. Do I say “work” or “school?” The truth is that teaching for me is about so much more than a job! I know that it’s what I get paid to do, but it’s what I love. Teaching brings me more joy than I can even describe. I think of this experience with my teaching partner, Paula, at the end of the day on Friday. It’s now around 4:00, and we should probably be packing up to go home, but here we are getting our ice organized for Monday morning. This ice making experience actually had me crying from laughing so hard. 

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So after creating some “ice” to freeze this afternoon, @paulacrockett and I brought the trays down to the freezer after school. Paula was especially excited that the sensory bin fit perfectly between the two tables. How awesome is this?! Then came the problem of fitting the ice cube trays into the freezer. Some spatial reasoning at play. We might have been a little surprised by the books in there! 🤣 I think that might have started our giggle fits. I thought that freezing the ice could be a good way for our kids to problem solve come Monday. Something new to try! The best line was when I said, “I wonder if we could dump the extra water in the sink,” and @paulacrockett replied, “Let’s try!” We all need teaching partners like this. I may have been laughing so hard that I was crying by the time we were through. 🤣 SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #iteachk #teachersofinstagram #ctinquiry #cti_scientificinquiry

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When it comes to teaching, I’m not good at looking at a clock. Some may say that this is not good for mental health or a work/life balance, but it’s actually the thought of putting limits on my time at school that causes me more stress than just doing the job. I think of this tweet that I saw from Zoe Branigan-Pipe back in November. It’s actually one that I keep coming back to. 

I can totally understand and appreciate her reasons for these choices. Maybe there’s a part of me that wishes I could make the email choice that she does. The truth is though that the thought of removing my work email from my iPad, and not responding to work emails at home, actually causes me more stress than answering them. Even just thinking about this possibility is making me feel stressed. A backlog of emails is overwhelming for me, and if I can solve a problem at the time, instead of later, I like to do so. Sometimes removing work from my plate actually makes me feel less balanced than adding it on.

I think this is how I decided that the Reading Part 2 course was one that I needed to take, for it’s not about increasing my workload, but instead, learning more about something that I’m passionate about. If this means that one day a week, I need to publish our Daily Blog Post as a two-part post the next day, then I will. Likely though, I’ll find a way to get it all done because the act of reflecting each day actually makes me excited about what is coming next. It reminds me of all of the positives in our day, which is a wonderful, happy feeling to have before heading to bed. The more that I think about it, if anything, my additional stress comes from trying to get out of school before 4:00 to make it to the Board Office on time versus a slightly later night once a week. 

And so, comes my real look at balance, which may not seem so balanced at all. Recently, I added a comment on a blog post of Sue Dunlop’s about community involvement. Her comment back to me gave me that uncomfortable feeling that also helped inspire this post. 

Here’s the crux of the problem: as I try to separate school and life, I struggle, as in many ways, school is my life. It is not the only aspect of my life, but it is an important aspect. In the work/life balance paradigm, the kind of comment does not bode well. How can this be good for my mental health? But what if it is? What if finding joy, drive, and even friendship, comes from my work, and what if balance then becomes harder, as work and home intersect so much? I’ve always been made to feel that this kind of overlap is a negative thing, and so I find it hard to admit what I’m feeling, but I wonder if it’s time to look at “balance” in another way. Does it have to be the same for everyone? If something is bringing you joy, do you have to restrict the amount of time you spend doing it? In its own way, I wonder if teaching (and all of the work that comes with it), actually helps me self-regulate. Imagine how this might flip the balance paradigm on its head.

Aviva