I love a glass of wine. Anyone who knows me understands my love of wine. I am not a connoisseur. I love the feeling associated with it. I love the feeling of getting home, walking in the house, changing my clothes and as I cook dinner for my family having the sacred glass. This glass lets you relax, reflect and rejuvenate from the day and is simply magnificent. That little bit of time is mine. Wine during my time is very different from wine with others. That is a different feeling altogether. One, I am appreciating more and more.
There is a local watering hole, not far from anything, that perhaps pours the healthiest glass of wine I have ever seen poured. The servers are so skilled that the wine laps just below the rim and it is a sheer miracle that it does not spill. At first you wonder if you are just getting the end of the bottle but when they return to refill and pour it to the rim again. Delightful.
My first encounter with this wonderful distribution was just before Christmas. My friend and colleague suggested PUB PD for our department after work on a Thursday. We were all exhausted, yet many of us found it within ourselves to go. I am sure part of it was not wanting to disappoint our friend who had made the reservation. It was snowy, cold and dark. We huddled around small tables piled high with appetizers that we ordered to share and we there we sat. The ultimate sit beside that had little to do with learning but felt like important work. System leaders pulled a chair up and lingered with us over the deep-fried pickles and nachos and we laughed. We told funny family stories, talked about plans for Christmas and about nothing at all. We all slouched. There was a strange mix of calm and exhaustion at the table. Andrea had done a spreadsheet of her calendar and included all of the initiatives and parts of her job and she was at -30 half days. Andrea was going to be that short on time to do her actual job over the course of the year. We all chewed on that for a moment. There are not enough words for ‘not enough time’ but when it’s in a coloured pie chart it is sobering.
No one really wanted to get up and leave but after about 90 minutes people started to drift away. I try to leave close to last when there is PUB PD. I am a little co-dependent. I like to make sure everyone feels that sense of group, especially if they came a little late. They need their group get too.
The first couple of PUB PDs in the fall were not large groups. There was some laughing and sharing but the time was short. I have noticed with the last 2, that the diversity and number of people is growing. This is not lost on me. People are making time in their ridiculous calendars to spend time with people they see all the time. What is the get? Why would we linger, we will see each next week? Or will we? We run, we schlep the stuff, we facilitate, we meet, we plan and learn. When do we build the relationships? Last week, we did a pro pro thinking model with the secondary school teams of educators. When asked what the educators loved about traditional school, the first answers were, “colleagues, relationships and camaraderie”. I sat thinking about PUB PD. We have little time for any of those three and if we are negative days how are we finding the time?
I made reservations for this Friday for PUB PD at that watering hole. If you make the reservation you get to pick the place. I look forward to being filled up to the rim in more than one way. My colleagues are really the who and the why on many levels. One week before March Break feels like the perfect time to linger, to sit beside and to get.
5 am… 12 degrees forecasted today. It’s the end of February. We don’t underestimate what that feeling of warmth on the face does, even for a few short minutes.
A: I love our people. So lucky to work in a place where collaboration, idea bouncing, and I’ll-do-that-for-you is a given. Pub PD is icing.
K: The feeling we get when we are planning with the white board – the place where people come to learn and are open – this feels different but just as open. The purpose is quieter. No clock, no need to get this finished. No end game.
A: Not work but essential to the work. We have to reconnect to the humans.
K: I have to admit – when we are collaborating at night as a group in a doc or we are on a group text problem solving there is feeling of belonging and purpose that feels unique to our jobs. We are usually in the panic zone before a big event. When we can get together, no event, slooooow down and chit-chat – that feeling is even more unique. Because we run in different directions. I miss that part of being in a school. My people time routine. We had to make new ones.
A: I was at a school, a very big school, the other day and we were talking about this very thing. “There are people down that other hall that I literally never see.” Belonging and identity are illusive when you change schools or combine schools. There has to be an intentional shrinking of the physical distance between us.
K: I am thinking about that space and what fills it up. I have worked in a secondary school my whole career until now. I am seeker (shocker) and of the five schools I have been I worked hard to find people and they find me back. I think I broadcast a signal. Those people become a very important part of the place where I go to work. We have that with the people we work with. But we also don’t have it as readily available because of the unique nature of our jobs – we eat in the car alone a lot. We need people. The beginning and the end of the day feel empty sometimes.
A: Sometimes there is just the total lack of time to do anything but give yourself over to the work, to your students. Head down, trucking through.
K: I used to love after school. My resource room was dead centre in the middle of the building. Depending on the time of year, day of the week, pressure of the time, people drifted in and out after school. They were unhurried. There was a funny story, a hard story, questions, maybe answers but there was presence. Just us in a room laughing with exhaustion and the clients in common. There is a deep connection to people you are in a similar trench with. We are in negative days at this point and end our days in different places with different purposes. Sometimes my phone rings three times after work with people unpacking their day because they haven’t yet and need to. I feel the same way. I sometimes get home and text you immediately with little regard for your family. I need to make sense of my day with someone else.
A: The more exhausted I feel, the harder it is to think forward. We do though. The unpacking is time to exhale. I believe that this is a necessary part of thinking things through. Like incubating or “sleeping on it”.
K: I wonder if what we need changes as we learn more about ourselves. I find peace in the silence when I get home before Steve. We rarely talk about my job. His job is different and cool and I get to listen with just my ears and my wine. He is my no expectations place. That being the case, education has changed and so have I. I find myself with a lot to make sense of. It rattles around. The unpack for me isn’t problem solving. The time with you and PUB PD doesn’t feel like we have to throw it all down. It, for me, simply lets me exhale differently with people who matter to me and feels like home in a different way. A rejuvenation…a get.
A: I listen too. It’s an expansion of contexts. Someone else’s experience multiplies the times and places I can connect to. It swims around while I sleep and do dishes. I need to know what you mean by expectations.
K: We are going to work today. We have a big day ahead. It will unfold. There will be norms, and a purpose and a reason for almost every word. In fact, it’s a flat shoe kind of day. When I drove you home from PUB PD last time you laughed your face off. We sat in the car rambling on about orange highlighters and literally just laughed. I don’t need to be anything for anyone or vice versa. I can wear high heels or running shoes and just blab or simply listen. It is heaven. I would not miss it. Going home is my favourite thing in the world but I need something else. When we don’t get it, when we don’t take the time…something shifts.
A: So what?
K: Well now…
A: You think I’m being smart. I’m not. You “get” from the laughter and the downtime, what does this mean for the beast? That’s all. Big picture, my dear.
K: I learn a lot, often and relentlessly. I seek. I question and I muck it all around. When I am home, I am often doing this but differently – books, online, with you. We then spend our days in beta. It is exhausting. You like dishes, I love the garden and I love the deck. It is quiet and simpler. I need to make sense of things. The rattle around in my own head is not enough. But, I believe the making sense is not drawing conclusions or coming up with an answer. It’s making sense of me. I need people who know what I do and why I do it to listen and laugh and slouch and relax. I get from them, exactly what I need…nothing earth shattering…just time.
A: Something feels contradictory. Why is the slouch as a reflective decompression different from actively plugging away at a problem? Besides the obvious, I think it’s part of the same process.
K: The slouch is about going inward towards yourself. It’s recovery. It costs you nothing and let’s you put something back. Everything is still and quiet and nestled in. I listened really hard to my colleagues at a meeting in Ottawa a couple of days ago. We sat in a little pub all crowded around tables far to small for our group. We talked a lot about everything. We were so damn tired yet we stayed. As I walked back to my hotel room I wondered we needed that time – it was stolen from the precious sleep side of the scale. Why did we need that heal? I think we needed it because of all of the plugging away.
A: It lets you put something back. What do you mean?
K: What we do costs sometimes; we become mentally and physically exhausted. I would say slouching in itself is a product of this but it is also a wonderful sign of being relaxed and open. There is comfort in that place and it feels just right for laughing and listening. The slouch feels open to me.
A: It should be in the calendar. On repeat.
K: I agree – if we wait too long, then there is too much to fill back up.