My 6th grade class is currently completing a unit within the International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC) titled “Balance”. The big idea of the unit is “Things are more stable when different elements are in the correct of best possible proportions” (1).
Coupled to our global-warming themed Science Fair, these students are investigating an animal that is threatened by global warming and analyzing the ramifications of the given animal disappearing from the food chain. In preparation for this task, they viewed a short video (see below) on the impact of wolves in Yellow Stone National Park (2).
After watching the film I opened up a general discussion with “So what did you think?” Immediately, a student responded with “It’s like the wolves provide balance to the entire ecosystem”. As always, my 6th graders were duly impressed and expressed appropriate wonderment. I love that about them. In any case, it jump started them in their own research about their threatened species.
Furthermore, it gave them perspective on the exit point they are doing for the IMYC unit: Working individually, they are to create a “person web” (kind-of like a food web), with themselves at the center. Branching out from themselves will be all of their classmates. They are to identify a characteristic of each classmate that brings balance to their learning environment. It will be a surprise to the group when each presents.
This idea of balance is such an important concept. We also teach it at the IB level claiming that IB learners are “Balanced” and that “we understand the importance of balancing different aspects of our lives – intellectual, physical, and emotional- to achieve well-being for ourselves and others. We recognize our interdependence with other people and with the world in which we live” (3).
I hope that we, as teachers and adults, also teach this principle of balance by our examples. It is an area that I have personally struggled with but am improving in. Here are ways I seek balance in my own life:
- I prioritize time with my family. We eat together and we do things together. 1:1 time with each person in the family involves date-nights with my husband, roller-blading with my 12-year old, dog walks and market visits with my daughter, and watching the “Walking Dead” series with my teenage son.
- I exercise. I run, especially when school isn’t in session. Biking to and from work is my main mode of commuting.
- I write! A few times a year I attend the Amsterdam Writer's Workshop (4) and I've committed myself to writing everyday. I’ve started this blog.
- I read. I find time to read novels and literature pertaining to education.
If I don’t do these things, I spend all my time on lesson planning, grading, and trying to make things better for the next time. Since every lesson can always be better in some way, this could become a completely obsessive habit. There have been times when I have worked from 19:00 – 24:00 every night. And that is not balanced.
My 2014 resolution was to break that habit and I have!
How do you keep balance in your life? Add your comments below.