Early in the morning on April 16, 2019 I went out for my routine walk around my neighborhood. As I got back from my walk I tweeted out #FreshAirAtFive for the very first time. The next day I repeated the process and thus began #FreshAirAtFive.
I’ve been using this hashtag ever since and find that it is a way for me to reflect on my exercise, reflect on the podcasts that I listen to while walking and be accountable to myself by posting on twitter often my success in these areas.
The routine of consistent exercise has been a challenge for me. Finding a thing that works and that will sustain me for a long while is important. Going to the gym to get some cardio and do weights doesn’t thrill me. I was semi-successful at this over the past two years but found that when life got stressful with work it was too arduous to get out of the house to go to the gym early in the morning. It also cost me money which hurt even more when I didn’t go to the gym.
We all know that exercise is important for our own self-care and wellness. It’s not news. Having a workout partner can help, but I don’t have one and besides, I’ll let them down. Having a home gym can help, but I don’t have one of those either.
It was in the summer of 2018 that I heard Sara Johnson (@SarahJohnson) interview on @TeachersOnFire Podcast Episode 34 with host Tim Cavey (@TimCavey). I was listening while I painted the bathroom of my house. I initially listened as I was a guest on Episode 33 of @TeachersOnFire. I haven’t stopped listening since. What I didn’t expect listening to Sarah talk about the book was that this would be a life-changing experience. Sarah Johnson, Jessica Johnson (@PrincipalJ) and Jessica Caben (@JessicaCabeen) wrote a book together called Balanced Like A Pirate: Going beyond Work-Life Balance to Ignite Passion and Thrive as an Educator (#BalanceLAP). I promptly ordered the book which arrived in my mailbox and then it landed on my shelf; not life-changing at this point. Then in November 2018 I picked it up and started reading it as I was headed to a conference in Victoria British Columbia. Getting started for me reading a book is challenging as I am not a quick-reader and I find it hard to complete a book unless I have a goal. My goal was to read and reflect on each chapter on Twitter with an image which was relevant and uses their hashtag #BalanceLAP. As I continue to read slowly the opportunity came for me to generate my Professional Growth Plan (PGP) as a teacher. This was an opportunity in our school district to go through a PGP process with our administrator compared to the sterile teacher evaluation process. One of the goals that I set for myself was to improve in my life-work balance. I work hard as an educator and find that I can let it become all-consuming. But outside of my work at my school district, I enjoy presenting at conferences, I am heavily involved in my church, and I am a husband of 20 years now and father to three children (16, 12 and 11 years old). How to balance all of these things and not lose your mind was why I continue to read #BalanceLAP.
The importance of self-care and wellness is very important for educators. Actually, it’s very important for everybody in any career. It’s important that you be completely present at your work when you are working. Then when you come home it is important to be completely present with your family. When you play it’s important to be completely present when you play.
I knew that self-care was important but didn’t have time to do it at the level I should have been. Going through life I saw myself it’s kind of invincible and that I can wait till until last to take care of myself. It’s been over the past five or six years that I’ve seen the effect of not taking care of myself in minor ways which puts stress on relationships, affects health and reduces satisfaction.
#BalanceLAP focuses attention on four quadrants of life as educators. Whether you are an educator or in a different professional career these four areas are present. The four quadrants are Professional, Positional, Personal, and Passion, not in the order of importance of course as each one is very important to well-being. As I read through the book I completed the little reflection assignment in each chapter and took notes in Google Keep and my Rocketbook as I read each chapter. I would tweet out my learning briefly, and I knew the importance of going through this book methodically and slowly as that would be a benefit to me. I don’t care to read self-help books and I don’t believe that this is a self-help book, but a self-care book.
Professionally I am an educator and a chemist. A chemist came about when I completed my Masters of science and chemistry in 1999 and started working at a small pharmaceutical company in Langley British Columbia called AnorMED Inc. Our small company was bought out and I was laid off, causing me to think about what I want to do with the rest of my life. I always enjoyed working with people and teaching people things which led me to pursue my Bachelors of Education through the Professional Development Program at Simon Fraser University. I completed that program In 2008 and was hired into the Abbotsford School District at the beginning of 2009. Professionally I am an educator and that means that I think about life through an educational lens almost all the time. When I go on vacation I like to learn things, so that I can tell others about them and learning helps me stay engaged in the world around me. Professionally I enjoy improving my craft. Professionally leads into positional.
Positionally I am a teacher at the Abbotsford Virtual School, teaching science and math, digital media and literacy, and serve as the library learning Commons teacher. Positionally means that I am in a location and have a position in an organization.
The personal quadrant is about myself, relationships outside of work, including wife and family and the normal things of life. Self-care fits into the personal quadrant and if you don’t take care of yourself it’s difficult to take care of those around you and have healthy relationships. Stress management is critical to maintaining healthy relationships and health on its own. Exercise is one way to manage stress and have an outlet for working your body to deal with the effects of stress. As I get older I’m almost 50 years old next year and need to consider being active and doing regular exercise. I tried running, but that doesn’t work for me. As I mentioned above also tried working out at the gym, which lasted a while, but then ended. So I decided that I would start walking, as it’s right where I am anytime I needed to walk. Being regular in my walking is important. I recently acquired an Apple Watch which helps me track my movement, exercise and standing time in the day. Closing the exercise ring requires me to exercise (at an elevated heart rate) for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. Being a scientist, measuring and recording metrics are important to me. Seeing my progress in a graph or chart helps me stay focused on the tasks before me. Keeping the exercise streak going is motivational.
The last of the four quadrants is Passion. What do you do outside of the other three that makes you tick? What do you enjoy? For me, that’s being in nature and fishing. So I try to fish for the sake of being in nature and not necessarily about catching.
Okay, back to #freshairatfive. While I walk in the morning, which is personal time for me, I chose to learn professionally by listening to podcasts with my headphones. I teach digital literacy and over the past four years have grown in this area of understanding by attending and presenting at conferences (EdTechTeam Summits, CUEBC, and our local Shared Learning Conference in Abbotsford). So I enjoy using technology for creating digital content from taking picture and video to create videos for my family and at school. I teach digital literacy at my school and need to stay current with my learning. So I listen to podcasts about educational technology and teacher stories. I’ll list the podcast I listen to later. All this to say that as I learning reflections on what I hear is important so I do that a little bit on Twitter with #freshairatfive.
So the point of all of this is to say that #freshairatfive is my way of recording my walking, reflecting on my learning from podcasts and seizing the day with exercise. When I miss my walk, I feel lethargic and blah. So I set my alarm for 4:40 am and try to be on the sidewalk in my neighborhood (or wherever) by 5:00 am.
So, I encourage you to find some way to get some exercise, get your-learning-on with the valuable resources present in podcasts (my list at the end), and to connect with those around you as you learn.
If you like I encourage you to get going with #freshairatfive and get learning and get exercising on a regular basis and most importantly to share your journey with others.
Thanks for reading and if you would like to connect you can do on twitter with @bryoncar.
Podcast I listen to regularly are: Teachers on Fire with Tim Cavey, Shukes And Giff with Kim Polishuke and Jennifer Giffen, House of EdTech with Chris Nessi, Educational Duct Tape with Jake Miller, TNT EdTech Podcast with Scott Nunes and Matthew Ketchum, TheWhyCast with Jeff Belt, The Wired Educator Podcast with Kelly Croy, Teach Me Teacher with Jacob Chastain and Check This Out with Ryan O’Donnel and Brian Briggs.