Teaching a Balance
Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Meagan Nance
At 5:10 p.m., the events of the action-packed first day of the ASCD Annual Conference were starting to weigh heavily on the eyelids of the participants as they entered room 133 of the session halls. Each newcomer searched the room for the closest available seat or a familiar face, while those already seated awaited the beginning of the session.
Although the first day of the conference was drawing to a close, the intriguing description of "The Well-Balanced Teacher," presented by Mike Anderson, lured in even the most exhausted person. The room was full of educators of all shapes, sizes, and shades, yet each were there with the same objective in mind: to discover what it means to be a well-balanced teacher.
Mike Anderson stood front and center amongst the crowd of educators and nervously observed his growing audience. Every so often, Anderson casually glanced down at his watch, not saying a word, until the clock said 5:13 p.m. The corners of his mouth lifted into an anxious smile as his strong, stern voice amplified in the room.
Anderson admitted his overwhelming nervous butterflies he was feeling before his first presentation of the balance movement to a live audience. Yet, his refreshing candor and humor eased the progression of the entire session and helped the audience engage in an active interaction with the speaker as well as others around them.
The Well-Balanced Teacher concept is the conscious decision to implement a healthy program for teachers that creates a balance to their lives and enhances their daily teaching experiences. Anderson developed the system of healthy balancing based on his own decisions that neglected self needs in favor of the needs and wants of his profession as a teacher.
Anderson began his search for balance based on an overwhelming sense of exhaustion that had accumulated during his first years of teaching. He felt a desperate need to evaluate the feeling of exhaustion and its effect on both his students and his relationships outside school. After calculating a daily log of the hours of instruction his 4th, 5th, and 6th graders lost during the regular school year—and finding that the total came to an astonishing 33.41 days—Anderson knew that a change was needed. The idea of losing his personal life and losing his instructional time led him to construct the Important Components of Balance.
As he also addresses in his new book The Well-Balanced Teacher: How to Work Smarter and Stay Sane Inside the Classroom and Out, Anderson advocated increasing fulfillment of basic needs (food, hydration, exercise, sleep, and spiritual renewal); belonging; significance; competence; and, most important, fun.
Anderson asked the audience to choose partners and use the blank form given to them at the door to make notes on how to set goals for creating a healthy balance of work and personal life. The once shy and hesitant educators became social butterflies as they shared their ideas and concerns for a balance in their life. Time flew by, and by 6:15 p.m. the once-heavy eyelids were wide open and filled with the excitement of the change to a well-balanced life.