Driving the Bus…The Energy Bus


Today I started reading a PD book with some other teacher/leader types, and it’s got me thinking…

Back in the day I worked in the restaurant business. With the fast-paced, tip dependent, high stress environment often came scathing humor poking fun of someone, usually a guest in the restaurant (sometimes the boss, too). When the humor was out of line, we would tell the jokester he/she was driving the bus. This was not Miss. Frizzle’s Magic School Bus destined for a scientific adventure. This was the bus destined for the netherworld. If a person joined the comedian as a sidekick, he or she would be appointed copilot. Many times I was in the role of driver or co-pilot.

20 years later, yesterday,I was given a book entitled  The Energy Bus, and I began wondering what bus is this I am driving now. The driver on this bus has the name Joy; her bus, however, is on a path of a higher purpose and being her copilot would be an honor.

When my principal handed me the book, he asked me who I thought I was–Joy or George? Okay, so I guess that was a joke for the most part. I think my bus is headed in the right direction–for the most part anyway.

The driver Joy is, well, the epitome of her name. On the other hand the “protagonist” George is not a good little monkey who is always curious. He is instead this beat down, cynical, downtrodden man who is negative about every aspect of his life. BLAH!

I have just gotten to the part of the book where Joy is inviting George to have the ride of his life and is sharing The Rules of the Road with him. Below are the Rules for the Ride of Your Life with my commentary.

Without digging into the rest of the book, I think I know my areas for growth. This is just growth related to work.

1. Some people are going to get on your bus and some people won’t. That’s ok. The people that get on were supposed to get on. The people that don’t were probably meant to get on another bus or perhaps they would have ruined your ride. Don’t take it personal. Just keep on driving.

For a moment, I vent and take it personally. Then, I drive on. Maybe I should just smile and wave to those who flip me off. This is easier to not take personally with students than with adults.

2. As you drive just keep picking up people along the way who want to get on your bus. Eventually you’ll have a filled -standing room only- bus.

Yup, I got this, especially with my student passengers. Of course, I don’t have this when wasting time on taking personally those people in #1.

3. If you waste your energy on thinking about the people who didn’t get on your bus that means you’ll have less fuel to pick up the people who want to get on.

See what I mentioned after 2. Yup. I can see this. As I age, sometimes I fear I’m becoming more cynical and nitpicky. Yes, I guess I am wasting my fuel.

4. It’s your bus. You’re the driver. Don’t spend your time and energy driving according to someone else’s travel plans. Of course you can seek directions and advice along the way but remember it’s your bus and your trip. Drive at your own speed and don’t compare your success to other buses.

Oh, I got both hands on the wheel, and I am navigating this bus. Sometimes I guess my bus has to hit a wall before I change directions, but at least I change directions. However, I do struggle with comparison. I have gotten a lot better at not comparing even thought we teach in a climate of comparison. We live in a world of comparison, and I know I am blessed with a wonderful life.

5. You have the best view. Many people won’t be able to see what you see. You have the vision for where you are going while others are in the back seat. Communicate to the people in the back and share your vision of where you are going so they will want to stay on for the ride.

I share my vision, and I think I have gotten better at communicating it with teachers, parents, and students. I’ve always worked hard to know my vision. I am, by nature, conceptual. Sometimes, though, I want to take a nap and let someone else drive.

6. During your ride, you will have many people get on and many get off. Don’t take it personal. The people who get off may have to get on another bus. Or perhaps they will make room for someone special who is supposed to get on.

There is that personal (ahem–personally!) thing again. Yes, I do believe I need to free myself from the desire to be liked by everybody.

7. Take a chance. Ask people if they want to get on your bus. The worst they can say is no. If you don’t ask people they won’t know to get on. The more people you pick up along the way the more energy you will create during your ride.

I think I do this, too, except for the few who have upset me personally. I don’t invite them along for the ride. Wonder if this book will say I should?

8. It’s ok to change destinations. Just because you used to want to go somewhere doesn’t mean you have to go there now.

Hmmmmm….I could change my destination at some point, but for now I’m where I need to be.

9. Post a sign. No Energy Vampires allowed. Sometimes you may have to ask someone to get off your bus. Gandhi said, “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” Don’t let anyone ruin the ride of your life.

Hmmmmm…perhaps I create potholes on my drive.  Posting a sign is easy; however, I don’t think I have the authority to kick too many people off the bus. I guess, then, this goes back to not taking things personally.

10. Have fun. When you have fun everyone will want to ride on your bus. Most importantly, you’ll love the ride.
With students having fun is easy. With grown ups, having fun with most of them is easy. Sometimes, though, I struggle with those who don’t have fun, who don’t love kids, who don’t have passion.

Thinking back to the bus I drove and co-piloted in my restaurant days, that was a choice. And now I look at this bus, The Energy Bus, and have to reconsider the choices I make as I drive the proverbial bus, open my door to passengers, try not to take personally people who aren’t interested in riding along, and try to avoid crashing into ditches.


5 thoughts on “Driving the Bus…The Energy Bus

  1. I love this Maya, & it touches me more than you might imagine. I’m a literacy coach who still has a few who really would rather not ‘ride’ along with me. I’ll take your advice & let them travel their way, while having fun on my bus with others. Thank you!


  2. Linda, I’ll let you know if I get any more wisdom in how to handle those who won’t ride with me. With me, I think of the times I open the door, smile, and engage only to be rebuffed. Linda, I bet your bus is fun. I would so climb aboard for the wild adventure. Let me know if you read the book. I would love to hear your insight.


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