The Teachers' Lounge

By Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon

As a young teacher, Jo Anne Lyon often left the teachers' lounge with little energy. Conversation there centered on topics like the kids' horrible behavior or complaints about the administration. Tired of this negativity, she asked a fellow teacher if she'd like to meet to talk about positive topics. The two also prayed together. Soon, things began to change in the teachers' lounge.

When I finished college, I started out as an elementary school teacher, and I was excited about my first assignment. I was full of idealized visions of impacting students. The practice of all the teachers was to gather in the teachers' lounge every morning before school. This was not a formal meeting, but all kinds of conversations took place. After a few weeks, I realized that when I left the teachers' lounge I barely had any energy left. The conversations were full of such topics as:

  • how bad the kids were
  • how inept the administration was
  • how crazy the world was
  • how impossible it was to teach
  • how we all ought to do something else
  • how underpaid we were
  • comparing our school district to one that was much better

After months of this talk, my disillusionment with the teaching profession, and my ineffectiveness in the classroom, I wondered if anyone else felt the same way. I was edgy about what I should do since I was really the “new kid on the block.”

Finally one morning I got the courage to ask a fellow teacher if she would be interested in meeting elsewhere just to exchange some positive thoughts. Her eyes lit up and she said, “Could that also include a prayer or two?” My heart leapt within me. “Of course,” I said. “Well, I know several who would be interested," and she started naming other colleagues that would join us. And they did.

It was amazing what happened in that new group. Lives that were broken began to vibrate with new hope. People who had never prayed much in their lives had new courage to pray. All of us began to look at the students with new eyes. Creative energy began to flow through our teaching. We found a new love for the students and rediscovered the joy of teaching. This was reflected in the students, too. Jesus helps us see the world with his eyes. Thus, we are never the same, nor are the people with whom we associate.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:20