Saturday, August 25, 2012

Energy

Several recent conversations have gotten me thinking about energy's role in schools and the relationships we have with our colleagues and students. Every year I teach a science unit on the different forms of energy.  Early on, students learn three basic things:

  1. Energy is all around us.
  2. Energy does work/causes change.
  3. Energy cannot be created or destroyed - only changed.

I had a busy week attending district retreats, serving on an interview committee, planning professional development, and continuing to prepare instructional activities.  While I'm incredibly excited for students to return, I love the time I spend with my colleagues this time of year.  We are relaxed, refreshed, and optimistic. There's a lot of good energy all around us, and I thrive on it.    

As a result of this collective positive energy, good things happen.  We work together to collaborate on projects, have engaging conversations regarding school culture, and help each other realize the awesome potential a new school year brings.  We are productive and happy educators ready to tackle any obstacle that comes our way.

And then something happens.

I'm not sure when, where, or why, but ultimately, there's a shift from good energy to...not so good energy.  You know what I'm talking about because we've all been there.  This negative energy can pervade a school culture like an infectious disease.  Teachers stop collaborating, snarky comments infuse themselves into conversations, and general unhappiness abounds.  Students and families begin to pick up on it, and it's definitely not a good thing.

What changed?  Why did it change?  How were we, as individuals, responsible for that change?  Can positive energy eventually reemerge?

I implore you to think back to those three basic properties of energy and remember the following during those endless staff meetings, while collaborating with difficult colleagues, or when working in challenging situations over the course of the next school year:

  1. Energy is all around us.  We all are responsible for the energy we bring into a situation or relationship. It's up to us to harness it in a positive and productive way.
  2. Energy creates energy.  Your mindset has a direct effect on the surrounding environment, as well as your relationships with colleagues, students, and families.  
  3. Energy cannot be created or destroyed - only changed.  You have to work with the energy already existing within your organization, but that doesn't mean it can't change or continue to get better. Take a step back.  Try to see a different perspective.  Keep that catty comment to yourself, or better yet, turn a negative comment into a positive one.  If you don't like the energy you're feeling, work to change it.
As I (officially) head back to staff meetings next week, I hope to keep that good energy flowing by being cognizant of what I'm transmitting and how I react to others.  We hold great power in our hands as educators, touching the lives of students and colleagues each day (often unknowingly).  We must remember that our energies are all connected, important, and vital to the success of our schools. 





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