1. George,

    I have been struggling with this notion of "balance" ever since Educon. My basic question is this: Do we need balance? or more to the point, Is seeking balance always a good thing?

    The questions stem from @AngelaMaiers comments in my session. She said that in order for someone to really pursue a passion, they must suffer in some way. While I am not sure "suffer" is the right word, I certainly think pursuing a passion requires sacrifice and anytime one sacrifices, they are going to be out of balance. For example, as a father of three, I know that when I travel to conferences I miss out on events in their lives. But I am passionate about my work and I feel okay making that sacrifice.

    Here's where I'm going with this, and I realize this is a rather dangerous road to travel and I am not even sure how far down this road I want to travel… but if we want kids to pursue passions, can they do so under the auspices of also finding balance in their lives, or is sacrifice and suffering necessary, thus finding balance not attainable?

    • George

      Great question Tony. I think that in the early years with school, we need to allow students to explore and ensure that there is balance. As they grow older however, we do need to shift this thinking where they can become experts. We continuously see proof for people to become experts in anything, they have to put in a substantial amount of time into their craft. As students grow and get closer to going out on their own, the balance will have to shift and something will lose out.

      We have to give opportunities for our students in the early years to explore different areas and ask questions, if not only for exposure, but for understanding and tolerance of other gifts.

  2. Great post George and great follow up question Tony. I'm thankful every day for the professional connections (and often accompanying friendships) that have happened because of social media. Twitter in particular. Like Tony, I have also been struggling with balance since Educon ended. I have invested a lot of time in my professional learning in the last 2 1/2 years. Most of that was done virtually but also a great part of it was done by attending face to face conferences. Do I regret this time investment? Not for one second. I, like Tony, think the sacrifice is worth because I feel like I do a good job of balancing personal and professional (now). I had to learn how to do this though! Does anyone feel like this balance came naturally? Just curious.

    Sadly, I don't think I ever knew what it was like to have such a hunger for learning until social media came into the picture for me. I say that's sad because it makes me think, "Why didn't I have this hunger for professional learning before social media?" I want the face to face PD even more now because of all the ways I can learn virtually.

    The face to face learning I have with colleagues at conferences and workshops is now so much more meaningful because of social media. Just like when I attended Tony's session at Educon. I knew of Tony's work from reading his tweets and blog posts, so I knew it was going to be that much more enriching of an experience face to face. We wouldn't be bound by 140 characters, we'd be able to hear the emotion and tone from these people that we know are so passionate about what they do. The same goes for Dean and Alec's session. I've learned from them many times virtually through their tweets, blogs, Elluminate sessions, etc. but it's never the same as the face to face interaction.

    Kids do need a balance just like we do, but where do we start to emphasize this? We want our students to produce with tech tools/social media, not just consume. We all know how good they are at the latter. So to get good at creating and contributing, opportunities have to be given and time has to be invested. And I also completely agree with Michelle, we should be teaching kids how to invest time productively managing their digital footprints as part of this.

  3. Kfeagin

    A great post, and great questions to think about. I find it interesting that the idea of balance itself can cause such disequilibrium. I believe that balance and passion do not have to be mutually exclusive. Without a chance to experience a wide variety of learning opportunities, how do we discover those that we are truly passionate about? I think that a platform of balance allows us to build to the peaks of our passions, and provides the support learners need when we stumble in pursuit of our passions. I believe that we have to struggle to have success, and in many ways that creates balance itself.

  4. kelly alford

    I think this is a conversation we need to have about many things, not just technology. When I look at the curriculum I have to teach I see a need to balance many things in order to cover all I am supposed to cover in a day, a week or a year. It is a daunting task to take on all that we have to do in education. I see technology as an equalizer. It helps me teach more efficiently while engaging my students at the same time. I can teach more in depth with technology, the learning becomes authentic with technology, and my students can extend the learning at home with technology.

    Integration is the way to survive in an elementary classroom. I am teaching reading and writing in every subject area, I am using math every chance I get, and I use technology in every subject area to help my students understand concepts and enjoy learning. Do I think everything should take place on the computer…No! I think it is a great tool that should be used when it can make learning more effective.

    Another area I see technology as an equalizer is the participation I get out of my students. Quiet kids get a voice, and I can get to know them. In a classroom setting you have kids that dominate conversations, and you have some students sit back and let them. With blogging I get to hear from ALL students. I get to hear the voices of the shy or insecure students, and this helps me become a better educator because it helps me build a better relationship with my students. Building relationships with my students will always be my first priority, and technology has made building them easier to do on so many levels!

    Great post!

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