Balance

Balance

Photo by Vicky Sim on Unsplash

 

Our school has a “theme” each month. A credo. A mission statement. A focus.

There are videos and reminders about that certain aspect of life. Sometimes, there are even t-shirts. This month — March — is BALANCE. (And look at the syntactial balance of that previous sentence!)

I was asked to write something for our newsletter that goes out to our staff about balance, so I figured I should plagiarize the crap out of that for my blog post this week — since I’ve been doing a terrible job keeping up weekly.

So, here is an adapted email I sent to a teacher colleague about balance.

What does balance mean to you?

Balance is remembering that no matter how mad, upset, stressed, or crazy I can get about school or football, it doesn’t change the price of Jeep parts. Whatever is bothering me, ultimately, doesn’t matter as much as I think it does.

Balance means to not bring home the bad stuff but to remember to share the good stuff. One crappy aspect of teaching is that our failures tend to outweigh our successes. Our bads tend to show up more than our goods. If I have one student who tells me to “Fuck Off!” in class, that tends to stand out and can upset one’s balance.

Some days, maintaining balance is to remember that 199 students didn’t tell you to fuck off.

And, even if one did, it doesn’t affect the price of shiny Jeep parts, so does it really matter that much, anyway?

Why is balance so important in your life?

Balance matters because all of us — teachers, dentists, mill workers, nurses, mechanics, salespeople— are more than our jobs. We have lives, families, and interests outside of these walls and we can’t let our daily work overwhelm us. Teachers especially work in an emotionally draining environment that can run us down if we aren’t vigilant.

Being a teacher and a coach is the best job in the world but I have watched it eat some people up. It can’t be one’s only focus. I don’t care what your job is, but it is only a way to make money, no matter how much you like it. It shouldn’t take the place of your family or friends.

Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

 

Because my son is going to college to play football, I recently resigned from coaching high school football after 24 years. I had a hard time deciding to resign because when something has been a part of your life for so long, making a change is difficult.

But from a balance standpoint, it wasn’t even a discussion. Of course, I am going to go watch my son play football instead of watching other people’s sons play football. Watching Brock play is the balance I need. I would have regretted any other decision than the one I made.

What are your favorite things to do to keep balance in your life?

Photo by Carl Nenzen Loven on Unsplash

 

Leave it at the stoplight. I’m citing two former Eagle High VPs here — Heath McInerny and Jim McGurtio — who taught me a very valuable lesson about surviving schools long-term. When I pull up to the stoplight at Park Lane, I try to leave my day behind me as best I can. If I carry home the poor practice or bad lesson plan, I’m not giving my best to my family. If I can’t separate my work/life balance, I’m making a huge mistake. I have made this mistake and it had massive consequences. Work is better if you leave it at the stoplight.

I work out every day before school. I don’t care if it is an in-service or a school day, I go work out. My days are better getting up at 5:00 AM and working out. That is my time to charge my battery and be ready for a day full of “Can I go to the bathroom, Can I reassess, Can I turn this in lates.”

I consider that my workday starts at 5:15 every day for school. It is a non-negotiable for me and my sanity.

I eat lunch with adults, not students. My lunchtime is for me. I need the time to turn off my teacher persona for 25 minutes. My wife says teaching is acting and we are all awesome actors: even if we are having a bad day, 200 students are watching, videoing, Tic Toking, and commenting on our every move and decision.

A lot of times, we have to fake it until we make it. I can do this deal, but I also need time to turn it off and relax during the day. Lunch is my time to catch my breath after the morning. A lot of teachers are better at using lunchtime to meet with students than I am. That’s okay; I know my limitations. I prefer to meet with students before school when I am sharpest and can focus the most.

Balance in March

March is my birthday month. A few years ago, on March 13, 2020, the world as I knew it ended because of Covid. I am not taking my birthday lightly again. The last few years have taught me a lot about balance. I think Covid probably taught a lot of us something about balance.

Balance sounds like a fad thing to think about, but if we don’t take time to drink a beer with our friends and drive our Jeeps when we get the chance, we run the risk of letting our jobs overwhelm us.

Don’t let your work cause you to be unbalanced.

Thanks for reading. Please check out my personal blog.

Written by: NathanWhite