For babies they call it failure to thrive. For teachers it’s just let me survive. Both are cases that involve proper nurturing. Yes, teachers need nurturing as much as babies growing into adults. As a recent retiree of 44 years in public education, I know first hand what I am talking about. Those years in my career that I felt supported both with needed supplies and materials and acknowledgement of my strengths, I was encouraged to be creative and build on those positive traits. I was energized, enthusiastic and enjoying the challenges that arose daily in the classroom. Stress was always present, but collaboratively managed for the students’ benefit. Teachers were respected by their employers, based on their education and experience. The last decade of my career, I experienced the erosion of this needed nurturing, although unaware at the time that it was the problem.
Educational reform has been the hot topic throughout my career, and I am the first to accept that changing instructional practices, based on good educational research is absolutely appropriate and necessary. That schools are caught in a paradigm shift is not new, but this time around, the stakes are higher than ever before. Competition among systems for money to operate has inadvertently shifted the blame for everything that is wrong in the world to teachers. The drive to improve literacy (a good thing) has overshadowed the big picture; creativity, the key to past American success and our future, has been forced to the side for teachers and filtered down to students.
Checklists of expected teacher traits have replaced recognition for creative ways to reach kids. Algorithms to qualify teacher effectiveness create an atmosphere of fear of making a mistake. Even experienced teachers find themselves in defensive positions, trying to prove their right to be in the classroom, rather than be encouraged to use their own strengths and interests to inspire kids to learn.
A good school administrator at any level needs to be a nurturer first. Teachers, principals, superintendents all need encouraged to connect to their charges personally and create a safe and secure environment, where new ideas are welcome. Teachers especially, are much like students. They like to be praised when they have created a winning approach for teaching a previously elusive concept or discovered an avenue into a kid’s psyche that unlocks a behavior or learning problem.
For educators who are treated with respect, valued for their education and experience, and nurtured to use their talents and unique skills, the sky is the limit for what they are willing to do. For educators, who are bogged down with micro managing demands and neglected in recognition for their willingness to create, find themselves just trying to survive until their earliest possible retirement date. Many opportunities are lost for students, for the education system, for America. Teachers need nurtured to develop grassroots solutions for educating kids! www.charihocares.weebly.com
Note: This blog was created for the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion movement, which addresses a monthly topic, published on the 20th of each month. This month’s topic:Nurturing. http://1000voicesspeak.org/2015/04/19/1000speak-about-nurturing/
It’s time to face the fear. Retirement from work is the alarm that signals impending aging and all the conditions that surround that state of being. There is no denying the already present aches and pains, that have been unwelcome but lingering for years. An injury or common cold recovery takes longer. More wrinkles and gray hairs cheerfully greet you every morning. Fear of ‘Where am I headed?” seeps in and can be paralyzing, creating a state of unexplained unhappiness.
That initial euphoria of the freedom from work passes. Well rested, eating healthy, and exercising regularly, you are feeling great. Visiting relatives and friends more and involved in some social and recreational activities keeps you busy, but doesn’t satisfy the way the job, that you couldn’t wait to leave and hate to admit, did. That retirement routine needs drastic treatment - of the shock variety. Otherwise, you may succumb to advancing the aging process faster than needed. Forget about facing the fear of aging or trying to avoid it. There is nothing you can do about that, regardless of the media blitz that broadcasts otherwise. Face the fears that you can overcome.
What has held you back all your life? I am not talking about your bucket list (places to see and things to do before you die) here. I am talking about what you have always secretly wished you could do or experience, but are afraid to try, because you fear failure. Aging experts (I am not one) say that fear of failure or rejection among the aging population has a more negative impact on happiness than the physical ailments we experience. Reluctance to put yourself out there breeds regret. This is your last chance.
At about midlife I read the quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” Whether or not she said it, I recognized it as good advice for living a full life, and embraced it. I became bolder, not everyday, but as often as I could; I tried new things, befriended different people, took on more than I could handle. I was facing my fears, or so I thought. I retired happily, or so I thought. Something nagged at me.
I have always felt like a writer and could pen grants, policies, resumes for others without a qualm. My name wasn’t on anything, except the Alphabet Book, submitted to several publishers in 1992, promptly rejected by all. For over twenty years, that fear festered, buried deeply until time stretched before me in retirement. Free time nags at you to do the right thing. So here I am putting myself out there with this blog, trying to find my voice. And I am not taking it personally that no one commented on my last blog! I will pursue this desire to write and am so grateful that the Internet exists as a place for instant publication. I will have no regrets.
Advice whether you ask or not: Do just one thing in retirement that scares you.