One Sunflower

Balance

on October 13, 2009

Someone gave me this postcard (by Dublin Publishing) a long time ago.  I hang it near my desk every September.  It is a cute reminder of all I want to do each year – balance unlikely combinations of companions, pedal forward as easily as on a child’s tricycle and feel the way that dog looks – slaphappy.

Balance and the pursuit of balance are priorities these days.  I’ve thought long and hard about how I balance the various aspects of my job.   There is time doing classroom maintenance – cleaning tables, prepping paint, changing out toys, games, puzzles, rehanging dress up clothes and shelving books.   This maintenance seems like it should be a finite aspect of each day but attending to the environment is a key piece of early childhood curriculum and the work of it is never really done.   

The more conventional planning of curriculum is where I really like to invest my energy.  I love thinking about how to inspire student discovery and personal learning and  I pour untold amounts of time into creating curriculum.  At the beginning of this process, I am often scattered and move sporadically around the classroom gathering materials or thumbing  through books and guides in an aimless way. I count on spending about a half hour every day in “wool gathering.”  But as my vision for what I want to do becomes clearer, the creativity of the process becomes focused and I am able to work strategically to put all the necessary elements together towards my goal.  I find great satisfaction in this aspect of teaching.  

A less than inspiring aspect of my job is that of entering data and recording the events of my students lives into a computer.  It is absolute drudgery for me.  It is not that I am more conscious of time because I’m not;  I am often unaware of hours slipping by as I type and move my cursor from place to place on the screen.  But unlike my curriculum planning, I am careful about limiting my data entry time and when I end these sessions, I often feel  hopeless and unfulfilled.  This work is also never done but unlike the energy I put into my classroom environment and curriculum, the stress of writing notes about my contacts is costly to me.

Everyone talks about needing more time to do quality work.   Lately I’ve realized that whether or not I have more time to do the work, it is my efficiency with time that impacts the quality of my teaching more than quantity.  This year I’m trying to become more conscious of my real productivity – in creating a consumate curriculum, engaging in data drudgery and attending to the most nitty gritty of classroom housekeeping.   Along with this consciousness I’m working hard to balance my perspective on it all.

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