Our school has a C.O.T.L. (Community of teachers learning) group that meets monthly to write, share ideas, and learn together. These meetings are usually before or after school and because life is busy, I don’t always make the meetings. But today, the stars aligned and I was the first to arrive at 7 am.

Here was the invitation, sent by my lovely marigold, *Dawn:


“pausing and trying to be present, recognizing quiet moments of triumph in the classroom.  This is mindfulnesscultivating moment-to-moment awareness of our thoughts feelings, and surroundings.”

The Science of a Meaningful Life, How to Nurture Empathic Joy in Your Classroom

“I’m challenging us to view readers differently-with promise, expectation, and admiration.”  “If we look at what students are doing, we are admiring who the reader is.  We can look at students’ process and their approximations as signs of growth, worth of our wonder and curiosity.

p 40 Mindsets and Moves Gravity Goldberg

Writing Invitations

  • Write about a joyful moment. Write to relive the moment.
  • Think about your class – jot down a few names and write what you admire about each one as reader and or writer.
  • Choice

Everyone was invited to write for seven minutes. At past meetings, it would take me a few minutes to think of an idea and I always felt conscious of how easily other people’s ideas seemed to flow. Today, my ideas just came and I surprised myself by writing for the entire seven minutes, not even thinking of what was going on around me.

I wrote about Peter Reynold’s new book, Happy Dreamer, and his recent blog post on The Nerdy Bookclub.  In the post, he encourages us to look at the very things that make us unique as gifts instead of labels. His post had me thinking about how we can use this very idea to look at the kids in our classrooms differently. How can we see the challenges that they bring as gifts? What shifts in our own mindset would this require? What gifts would we be giving our students and to the world?

This time spent writing and reflecting first thing in the morning, reinforced my belief in the importance of choosing to look for the joy around us. Many teacher chose to write about particular students and things they admire about them. Together, we were reminded of the power in this practice and the impact we have on the students we teach. I wonder what the other members of the group took away from the meeting? Were they able to project the positive start of the day onto their students? Was their a ripple effect? I sure hope so.

*Dawn also blogged about the COTL meeting. You can read here post here!



9 thoughts on “C.O.T.L.

  1. I can only imagine the positive impact this will have on teachers, on students, and on the whole school community. What a great way to think and to start a day. I’m going to try this!


  2. Teachers seem to enjoy each other’s company when they’re learning or reflecting together around their own choices. My question is how you get them to see it as a pleasurable and rewarding experience and not a meeting…at least until they’ve had a chance to try it out?


    1. It’s just an invitation to the staff. There are a core 5-6 people that come regularly. Others pop in when they can. If one other person shows up, it’s a success!


  3. Jess, I am so happy to know that COTL is alive and well in Westport.
    It’s so important (and SO powerful) to take time to focus on what matters in classrooms, with teachers and students, with teachers and teachers. Yahoo!

    Liked by 1 person

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