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Recharge - It's called a break for a Reason

Recently, I read a blog post from Mark E. Weston (@shiftparadigm) entitled Keep Looking Up -The Secret to Lifeand it really got me thinking. Mostly because Matt and I are far from having the secret to life and it feels as though balance is just a fairy tale. As educators, parents, artists, and human beings we are all pulled in so many directions. Fortunately for Matt and I we “sort of” knew what we were getting into as we are both teachers’ kids but you never fully know until you walk in the shoes. Matt’s father was a high school science teacher and coach and his mother a K-3 teacher extraordinaire. My Mom was a high school Economics and Government teacher so we saw the behind the scenes prep, grading, and weekend competitions.

Even though we were lucky to have first hand observations and very personal mentoring, the unexpected is always a part of teaching and honestly, it is a part of what makes it a great profession. The unknown variables include the fact that no day is ever like any other, our students are all individuals with unique learning styles and the demands of an ever changing world include a perpetual whirlwind of assessments, accommodations, legal jargon and technology integration. This is a limited list and as I am reading it I start to feel a little overwhelmed: how do we strike a balance? Both professionally, in things like data-driven vs. relationship driven, and personally especially when it comes to time. How do we find the time to read, grade, plan, problem solve the classroom needs and still make time for quality time with the family and quality time taking care of self? I have to be real right now: we don’t have the answers.

What I will say is that somehow we’re making it work and I wouldn’t say it’s always pretty. In fact our house is only surface clean, there is always laundry waiting to be done (which rarely makes it to the dresser drawers), we struggle to do homework with the kids (making it home after 6 pm most days), and we often eat out (local McAlister’s Deli knows us by name.) There’s a realization that life is so similar to the creative workflow. There are just times when it’s harder to look up maybe because you are in a zone or up against a deadline then there are moments if zen when you complete a major project. But what we do is try to prioritize and figure out what works and doesn’t for us both as a family, as creative beings and educators.

As we came to the close of Thanksgiving break and look forward to winter break, I have to say that one of our essentials is taking a break. Breaks are a must in a profession that demands stamina and endurance; mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s important to disconnect, don’t check email, limit social media and resist the urge to grade or lesson plan. Nothing is ever finished and your creative brain will continue to buzz so you have to create a mindfulness that allows you to truly take a break. This was the first week in a very long time that we didn’t host #K12ArtChat, in an effort to encourage our professional learning network to take time away. One of the many things we were thankful for this Thanksgiving is that it afforded us a week to just be at home with our family and friends. Nothing was on the agenda and we enjoied not having to be anywhere or meet any deadlines. Then when it was time to head back to school we were recharged and better prepared to meet the needs of those we serve.

So we challenge you to maximize your winter break, by taking much needed relaxation and recharging time. Take this time to enjoy your families and friends, create something for your soul and be mindful in order to make the very most of your break.

Creative wishes,

Matt & Laura Grundler


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