Balance. It was the word I chose to indicate my overarching goal for 2016. Here’s what Google says are two definitions of the noun and verb forms of ‘balance’:

Google definition result for BALANCE.
Google definition result for BALANCE.

So which option to choose? (don’t you love language – pick the meaning you like!) I like the idea of noun no. 2 – that different elements should be equal or in their correct proportions – though in teaching these proportions are often different between schools and even on either side of the same classroom wall. So let’s say I prefer number 2 with a twist. The differences can be so pronounced that you have to unlearn everything you gained at university and learn on the job in a very real and immediate way. Therefore I don’t think the different elements need to be ‘equal’ but certainly in the proportion that is correct to the context.

I worry about the verbs actually. One refers to failure avoidance, the other to compare values of two things. So let’s stick with noun no.2 with a twist.

2016 holds three major changes for me:

  1. my first child
  2. a new job, & one outside of a teaching role
  3. running a new venture as co-founder and Chief Learning Officer for ELLA

The first will surely be the most dramatic, rewarding and life-changing. I can’t wait for this little addition to our family. I know it will challenge me in ways I can’t even begin to imagine. Being an uncle to three amazing kids has given me a preview but (as everyone reassures me) this is nothing like the having your own.

The second will allow me to explore and learn about professional learning from a position where I can directly support teachers in achieving their goals. I’ll miss interacting with the amazing minds and personalities of the kids in school but I hope that interacting with the minds and personalities of big people will be just as stimulating.

The third is a whole other dimension of my life experience that will stretch my skills, broaden my understanding of the world beyond education but also allow me the chance to contribute something positive into an education world that is often bombarded from the outside by people who think they know best. It’s very rare that educators are leading the development of new technologies, let alone consulted meaningfully in the design process.

What I will be interested to see is how the balance shifts and changes as the demands of each change (with no. 1 always taking priority if things clash.) I hope to be a good father, a good co-worker and a decent startup founder. I believe I can do all three if I keep focused on what matters.

Some might say that I need to focus on my job. I’ve never NOT focused on my job. But it’s also a job, not my entire life. At times it gets busy and seems to take priority, but it’s always a job and therefore not as important as other things.

Some say I need to give up everything and focus only on the startup. I disagree. What keeps me valuable is that I have a meaningful relationship with other educators. Every step I take away from the daily world of education is one step into irrelevance for the very idea we’re trying to develop.

If I’ve learned anything from reading about successful educators as well as successful business people, it’s this: they forge their own paths rather than walking the ones laid out by others.

Balance may be an aspirational goal but it’s something I’ll strive to achieve.

And a few hours sleep.

Have a great week!