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/