Learning and Sustaining Energy
by Brenda Krupp
As I write this post I am celebrating a birthday, a birthday that pushes me closer to retirement, a birthday that makes me one of those teachers others approach and ask, “Was it always like this?’” That scares me, especially in light of this blog post topic: sustaining energy. I have to admit that it was not always like this. There were no SLOs, PARCC tests or PSSAs when I began my career. Teaching with “fidelity” meant something different. And, in the elementary school, children were children not cogs that needed to be prepped for the next, higher level. Teaching was tiring, but not energy zapping. So, how does one sustain energy in this era of teaching? On a recent evening, I got a glimpse of how.
On Thursday, February 12th, from 7:00 – 8:00, I participated in a twitter chat with colleagues near and far. We engaged in a conversation around Tom Newkirk’s book Minds Made for Stories. The tweets were fast, thoughtful, and inspiring. I found myself challenged to rethink what I believe about nonfiction reading and writing. I found myself moved to rewrite unit plans, to discuss with colleagues new ways to teach children writing strategies and skills, and to think more deeply about my instructional moves and beliefs. I wanted the conversation to continue; an hour wasn’t enough. I was ready to teach. I had learned something. I had learned. Learning sustains and creates energy. Learning.
Consider the buzz of energy in your classroom when students are learning. I watched Emma and Cam hunker down in front of a computer and read about bats, laughing, pointing, writing, and then excitedly telling me about their new learning. I watched Hudson stare down the numbers on the board, and then jump out of his seat when he noticed the pattern. Free Learn Fridays are days when my children decide what they want or need to learn. They come prepared with questions to pursue, ideas to discuss, and plans for learning. Time flies for all of us. Learning creates energy – for students and teachers.
Sustaining energy in teaching could look like:
- Inviting a colleague into your classroom to watch you teach something new or challenging, then discussing the lesson.
- Revamping a lesson you’ve done year after year.
- Reading a professional book with a colleague and deciding what to do with what you learn.
- Joining twitter. This is a great way learn with like-minded professionals.
- Attending PAWLP Day events, Teacher’s College Reading Writing Project reunion Saturdays, or your local Writing Projects professional development days. Do this with a colleague; the conversation afterwards will push your thinking and get you excited for Monday morning.
I’ve tried exercising, seeing each day as a new opportunity, laughing more, and letting go of the stuff I cannot change. While these strategies worked for a time, they didn’t sustain me over the long run. After more than 25 years in the classroom I am still energized when I am learning and engaged in the learning process. Learning is what keeps me going.
Brenda Krupp is currently a third grade teacher in the Souderton Area School District. She co-directs summer writing institutes for PAWLP. She blogs regularly at thirdandrosedale.blogspot.com and can be found on Twitter @brenkrupp.