We had the good fortune of connecting with Tonnie Acosta and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tonnie, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work life balance is such a difficult feat as a teacher. We give so much of ourselves to our students and to our job. The to do list will never end. So for many educators, teacher burn out is a real thing. Taking care of yourself, practicing self care and having balance doesn’t mean you aren’t focused on your business or your goals. I believe it actually makes you a more fearless entrepreneur. My first two years of teaching I really struggled with a work life balance. At the time I was a new mom which already put a wrench in the whole self care thing. There was no pivotal moment where I decided I needed to have a better work life balance. Over time I watched myself become tired and warn down. Being in this state did not allow me to be the best version of myself for my students. Over time I made commitments to myself. My first step in a better work life balance was taking work email off my phone. Next, after a certain time I would turn on the do not disturb feature on my phone so that I would not feel tempted to check my work texts or messages. I worked on committing to myself designated self care time. My favorite way to practice self care is being out in nature. I love to go on solo hikes where I can move at my own pace and take in the nature around me. I still struggle to perfect my work life balance, one of the territories of being a teacher. A thing that I still have difficulties with is not thinking about my students or school when I’m not at school. But that is also something I would never change about myself, even if it is a consequence in a healthy work life balance.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
It took me a couple years to find my style as a teacher. At first, I was trying to do what all my peers where doing in their classroom. Every project and lesson, I was trying to be as good as the teacher down the hall. After a lot of self reflection I started to evolve into the teacher that I wanted to be, and not a carbon copy of the teacher down the hall. It took a lot of just seeing what worked and what didn’t work. And then the lessons and ideas that did work, I would do again the next year with some tweaks to make my student’s educational experience more engaging. A passion of mine is student engagement. I am always looking for new, fun and innovative ways to engage my students in their learning. One of my favorite lesson from this school year was a taco themed day to teach procedural writing. Living in San Diego, tacos are a staple. So I figured, why not do a fun activity coupled with a lesson on how to make a taco. As my students built their tacos, with a variety of ingredients, they recorded the steps in building a taco. Of course after the writing was done we all had a taco eating party. Some of my most favorite teachers as a kid were the ones who did things differently. I want to be that teacher who kids remember when they are an adult. If I can still teach the Common Core Standards but also make learning fun, then I have done my job.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am a huge craft beer fan. So if I have a free couple hours on the weekend, I love enjoying a beer with my husband at one of the many local breweries. My favorite beer by a long shot is Cali Creamin’ Creamsicle from Mother Earth Brewing Company. I perfect Sunday for me would be hiking at one of the many scenic hikes our city has to offered, followed by a sunny afternoon spent on the patio at a local brewery. Now, if I had a free afternoon with my best friend, that’s a different story. I would start off with brunch at Breakfast Republic. I’m a sucker for pancakes and I love ordering their pancake flight. After I would bring my bestie to purchase a gorgeous house plants from one of the amazing local nurseries. My favorite nurseries include North Park Nursery and Eden San Diego. And if you are in North Park, then you have to take some gram worthy pictures in front of the many murals featured in the area. After picking up some new plant babies and snapping some photos, I would bring my best friend to get her nails done at the best hidden treasure salon, La Belle Nail Boutique in Sabre Springs. The atmosphere is relaxed and clean and Kim is bomb at dipping nails. After some pampering and getting dolled up we would be ready to hit up my favorite craft cocktail place. Another hidden gem in North San Diego is Swinford Spirits. But don’t just think you are going to just stroll into their perfectly decorating lounge, you need to know someone who is a member to become a member yourself. I enjoy this exclusiveness because you really feel like you are part of the family when invited into this husband wife duo runned cocktail bar. Not to mention their cocktails are extremely delicious. And it wouldn’t be a night out without stopping somewhere for a Cali burrito.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am inspired daily by the educators around me. Whether it’s a teacher that I work with or a teacher who I have met through the teachergram community online. I am moved to be a better educator every time I step foot into a classroom. I wouldn’t be the educator, mom or person that I am today if it weren’t for the encouragement and support from my own mother. Not only was she a strong female role model for me growing up, but she continues to be someone who I inspire to be more like. She doesn’t only support me emotionally but she is always willing to give to my classroom. From school supplies to little trinkets she finds around the house to put in my classroom treasure box, she knows how hard I work and does what she can to help me and my students. She is my best friend and one of my biggest cheerleaders.