Energy

I looked around the library, a mix of new teachers and veterans, spanning the grade levels, k-5. Ten of them had chosen to join our invitation to gather for C.O.T.L, A Community of Teachers Learning (together), after school on a Thursday. After school in a year that feels weighed down in hard, busy, and both familiar and new challenges. But they showed up, despite the obvious long to-do lists, despite being tired, despite being overwhelmed…who isn’t these days? I looked around the library and thought of Dawn’s invitation and watched these people write as they too contemplated, “What gives you energy-professionally? Personally?”

As the pencils stopped moving, I noticed how the teachers around me sat in the quiet, content. No one seemed anxious to leave, to move onto the next thing.

Dawn then invited us to share. Carolyn began, sharing her thinking that went to science and brought me straight back to high school physics. “The law of conservation of energy states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed – only converted from one form of energy to another.” She spoke about having a finite amount of energy and how we transfer energy to one another. This sparked a lot of conversation. Others shared about taking time to play and build relationships with kids. Still others talked about relationships outside of school, Val telling us about her new friendship with the attendant at the gas station where she stops for a daily snack to give her energy after school.

Together, we connected, empathized, and laughed.

It was in the quiet of the library that I was overcome with gratitude for the people around me. These are the people that give me energy. I have been in the trenches with these people this year, especially our new teachers or teachers new to grade levels. I often show up at school, a bit overwhelmed by my life, having lived what feels like a whole day before I even arrive between getting myself ready, getting my kids ready, and then surviving the commute and all of the obstacles that involves these days. But the moment I step into the school, I draw on the energy of growing alongside the adults and kids in our school. I’ve always believed that schools are magical places. I still do.

I believe that the work we do is good work, important work. All of this brings me back to last year, where I was thrown into teaching virtual first grade. I wrote this post, We Get To, about shifting my mindset from “I have to” to “I get to.” In my coaching work, I’ve been encouraging and helping teachers to shift their view from, “They can’t” or “They aren’t” to “Look at what they are doing.” We’re doing the same as we analyze assessment data, “What are they already doing well?”

We can’t create more energy, but we surely can reframe the energy we give to one another. For me, I know it is a constant choice-a conscious decision that doesn’t always come naturally, to stop wallowing in the hard. Knowing that our energy transfers to one another, I think we owe this to one another.

5 thoughts on “Energy

  1. We are so lucky, blessed, that we “get to” come to school every day and work with kids and colleagues who care about the work, the hard work, that we do. That afternoon was a gift in and of itself…still making me smile as we lingered and laughed together!

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  2. Reframing is key! I’ve done that with my daughter’s religious education (i.e., “You GET to go to Hebrew School.”) and it works wonders. It’s harder, often, when we’re adults. However, having such capable leaders — like you and Dawn — will make this all the more possible.

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