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The Big Fresh December 1, 2018 From Balance to Beats

Brenda Power

Work-life balance sets an unrealistic expectation of keeping different roles in steady equilibrium. Instead, strive for work-life rhythm. Each week has a repeating pattern of beats—job, family, friends, health, hobbies—that vary in accent and duration.

                                                                                                                Adam Grant

When I was a teenager, I played clarinet and met weekly with a private instructor.  But after the school year was over, we stopped poring over sheet music and practicing scales and long tones. Summers were given over to jazz. Within certain rhythms or a range of sounds, almost anything was possible. It took a lot of effort and it was sometimes frustrating to improvise after nine months of exacting attention to getting what was on the page exactly right. But I learned that it was also fun to try to invent new melodies within the constraints of keys and timing.

I spent too much of my life thinking about how to live a “balanced” life, charting out schedules and trying to slot in time for myself. I’ve finally learned a good life isn’t about balance, but beats. The beats that matter most -- family, writing, work, volunteering -- recur on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Certain beats are much more prominent in some days and weeks than others. But it’s all about improvisation -- finding a rhythm and melody that works for a while, and then disappears when a new rhythm emerges.

What are the beats in your life? What’s most prominent now? Sometimes life is all about strong, overwhelming beats of family (with a new baby) or writing (with a new book) or career (with a switch to a new school). Your life might not feel in any way balanced, but the melody can still be sweet.

This week we look at integrating social media into classroom communities and professional development. Plus more as always -- enjoy!

Brenda Power
Founder, Choice Literacy


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Ruth Ayres finds storytelling is at the heart of social media, and describes how teachers and students might work together to find a place for social media in classrooms:


Stephanie Affinito uses a popular app to stay on top of children's literature and deliver timely recommendations to teachers and children:


The University of Southern California has created a handy guide for how teachers can use Pinterest:



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Mark Levine provides quick tips for teachers interested in using Twitter Chats for professional development, with advice on everything from understanding chat hashtags to the best chats to how to jump into one:


In this week's video, Katherine Sokolowski helps Amelia send a tweet to a favorite author:


Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain how they avoid a holiday reading slump with students through "break baggies" that include plans developed in the classroom and books selected with peer and teacher input:


In an encore video, Katherine Sokolowski describes a wall display with guidelines to ensure students are respectful and aware of the pitfalls of posting online:

That's all for this week!

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Brenda Power

Brenda Power is the founder of Choice Literacy. She worked for many years as a professor at the University of Maine and an editor at Stenhouse Publishers. Her publications as an author include Living the Questions and The Art of Classroom Inquiry. She has worked as a book editor and video producer for many of the authors featured at this site.