Monday, September 16, 2013

Driving on Empty

I peeked at my odometer while driving on the Don Valley Parkway Sunday evening and saw that the gas light was on. This was a pretty symbolic state of affairs.

I was on the highway at that time because I was returning from another day of conducting a Tribes TLC training at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. This course was offered on two consecutive weekends. On the previous weekend, I didn't return home until nearly midnight on Saturday and after a crazy set of circumstances, close to 10:00 pm on Sunday. This most recent week, I was sick with a sore throat, but Tribes supply teachers don't really exist, so I still ran the training - and I felt run down. It didn't help my energy level when I had some participants who were less-than-appreciative of my efforts. We learned about "I" statements during this training and mine for these couple of issues would have been: I feel disappointed when my efforts at open communication are ignored and I feel irritated when events reported to others are misrepresented.

As I reflected on the voyage back home, I connected with my car. It's hard for the car to run well when it's low on fuel. (Don't tell my parents, but a number of years ago, I ran out of gas while on the road and had to be towed to the nearest gas station. It's not a good feeling.) For the automobile that is the 1972 Diana, fuel isn't just food, but emotional and mental energy. Going without rest sapped my strength. So did dealing with negative people. I was saved from crashing and burning by brief breaks (such as the wonderful late lunch I had with my fellow trainers at a great breakfast-lunch place on Bloor Street) and the kind words and gestures by some of the other participants in the training - the teacher candidates who hugged me goodbye, and offered to help me tidy the classroom on the final day.

Could my "low gas tank" have impacted the effectiveness or tone of the training? Quite probably. Then again, it's possible to give 100% to a lesson or class and have it tank, because of other factors beyond your control (like the energy levels or attitudes of your students, or illness, or the timing of the class itself). I want to thank the participants who were open to the Tribes process, and I apologize if my exhaustion affected their training experience.

I pulled into a gas station and filled my car with what it needed. I'm going to work on filling my own tank this week, by going to bed early, carving out some "me" time, and surrounding myself with positive people. (I think cuddling with my new skinny pig Owen, whom my school children have been suggesting that I bring to school, might help a lot as well.)

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