45 minutes after school

“Ohhhhh…who made the brownies?” Mike asked as he reached for the brownie.

I watched as Kristen stood up and reached for one herself. Our first Community of Teachers Learning Meeting: Teachers Who Write was about to begin. Despite their ever busy lives, ten teachers, voluntarily, gathered in the library on a Thursday afternoon.

We started, as every COTL meeting for the past 25 plus years has, with quiet writing. The invitation to write: Where do you find energy personally, professionally?  Make a list.  Write a specific moment that comes to mind.  What structures are in place personally, professionally that support giving and receiving energy for you? launched everyone into their journals.

After about ten minutes of quiet writing, Carolyn broke the silence, “I went the scientific route when I wrote.” She read, “We have finite energy. We can’t do it all. We can transfer energy from one to another. We can change energy from negative to positive which is mindset work. But we can’t physically make energy. You can’t create or destroy energy, you can only transfer or change it.”

Her words hung in the air. I’m pretty sure we were all processing her thoughts ourselves. Kristen chimed in next. “What gives me energy? Time for conversations and connections with kids. I’m starting to allow myself to build in the time – there are energy shifts when we build in time for these conversations and connections.”

And then Mike, connecting his writing to the idea of building time for conversations. “The other day, during Writer’s Workshop, the kids were sharing social issues, they were deep in conversation and I knew I need to let them talk for a bit — the boxes and bullets could wait a few minutes.”

Kelly segued our share from professional to personal. “I find energy in snacks on the way home.” Val connected immediately “Snacks! Yes, snacks give me energy. Some days, snacks are the bandaid over the day.” Snacks led to traffic. We all shared in the misery of the line of traffic at the intersection near our school. We learned that snacks help some of us transition from school to home. We laughed. We laughed loud. We laughed hard.

Jess had shared somewhere between the snacks and the traffic that is was the people that give her energy. “I’m proud of all these people. This is hard work. We get to dream together and that gives me energy.”

Donald Grave’s book, The Energy To Teach grounded our meeting today. It was written 20 years ago but the invitations, ideas and research he shares are more poignant today than I think they were 20 years ago.

It’s essential that teachers lean on each other not just in regards to planning and curriculum, but as energy sources. We all can’t be “on” every day, but if we know and believe that energy can be transferred as Carolyn pointed out, then we need to stay open to receiving and giving it.

It’s meetings like COTL, where the flow of energy amongst our colleagues can be felt. It’s the time spent reflecting, creating, and wondering that allows us to find possibility in the energy sources around us.

“We have the power to break out of energy depleting situations. We have the power to change our interpretations of events to make a difference to ourselves and the children we teach.” Donald Graves

6 thoughts on “45 minutes after school”

  1. You found your ending. The quote is perfect. I liked reading your spin. All the same players- a similar take away. Thanks for bringing us together. It really is a gift. ❤️


  2. I love Graves. I haven’t read this particular work and now I will need to. I am thinking how being productive gives me energy… therein lies the challenge, when one works hard yet doesn’t seem to be accomplishing much. The secret so lies in pulling together – that’s the spark!


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