Archive for the ‘Teachers’ Category

Service of Goodbye II: Nurses and Teachers Saying Adios to Children

Monday, June 24th, 2019

Photo: jobs.ac.uk

Goodbyes are one of my least favorite things which is why I’ve broached the subject head-on only twice in the 11 years I’ve written this blog.

Photo: americannursetoday.com

I marvel at the glowing faces of hospital nurses as they wave goodbye to children leaving for home. I’ve seen this in news clips or documentaries. Many of the nurses have helped bring the tots, some under their care for months if not years, back from the brink of death. Yet they also don’t want to see their patients return to the hospital for treatment.

I’ve thought: “How do they feel losing contact with the little ones they must have become attached to?”

You can’t know the emotions of a stranger you’ve never spoken with, but Leanne Sowul‘s blog post, “The Perpetual Goodbye,” shares a glimpse at how others, who share the lives of children, feel when the kids move on.

She wrote about this year’s au revoir to the fifth graders she taught in band for two years in 60 small group lessons and 85 rehearsals. “I’ve gotten to know many of them quite well, and I’m going to miss them very much.”

Photo: teacher.org

She continued: “It’s something that isn’t discussed much in teaching circles: the perpetual need to say goodbye. We talk about the stress of the end of the year, how crazy the students get when the weather turns warm, and how much we can’t wait to relax. Sometimes we say, ‘This was a good group of kids. I’m going to miss them.’ But we don’t really talk about the deep loss we feel. We swallow it and move on. It’s the nature of the job.”

My first grade teacher, Miss Woods, would look right through you if you saw her in the hall once you moved to second grade and beyond. I was told that she had lost her own child which is why she did that–she didn’t want deep connection with her students.

Sowul continued: “That’s how it is when you’re a teacher: the students move on, and you’re supposed to stay the same. But you’re not the same. You’re different, because they’ve changed you.

“It’s like having your kids grow up and move away every single year. It’s not something that gets easier with time. In some ways, as you become a better teacher and learn to connect better with kids, it gets harder.”

It’s not just children that nurses and teachers miss nor are these two professions exclusive in this aspect of a job. What are some others? Why don’t teachers address and admit the loss among themselves?

Photo: northwestschool.org

Service of It Matters

Monday, July 13th, 2015

It matters

Photo: mycutegraphics.com

Photo: mycutegraphics.com

 

You can be the most sensitive person in the universe and still be innocently and inadvertently indifferent to something that’s significant to another person.

A friend teaches a reading class to six first graders. Each has a book and there’s one for her. When the class was over one day, the smallest child in the class asked if she could please carry the books back to the homeroom. My friend, who reminded me that children this age love to be helpful, said thanks but that it didn’t matter as another child was doing it. The diminutive child looked her in the eye and said, “It matters to me.” So my friend asked the other child if she’d share the “load.” The child handed three of the books to her classmate, keeping the rest for herself. The little one beamed all the way back to homeroom.

In a vastly different scenario, Jim Brownell said to me: “This is a dump but it doesn’t have to look like one.” I’d just admired the transformation of the Millbrook, N.Y. transfer station [photo below]. As you approach it now there are three flags–American, Army and Marine–posted in a generous bed of mulch they’d installed. Brownell and Joseph Magnarella, who is in the photo, are the transfer attendants responsible for the makeover. Brownell is a Marine [on NCIS I learned once a Marine, always a Marine]; Magnarella is former Army.

When I first noticed the makeover, only the American flag and two poles were in place. Brownell expected the other two flags shortly. I left work early July 3—the dump is only open three days a week—to grab a photo for this post and only two flags flew. I asked Brownell for permission to take a photo and explained the nature of my post. He suggested I wait for the missing Marine flag, especially in light of the title. “It matters,” he said. [He was on vacation the day I returned for the photo.]

Can you share examples of something insignificant that nevertheless mattered a lot to you or to someone else? How about employees who go above and beyond because where they work–and how it looks–matters to them?

Joseph Magnarella a transfer attendant at the Millbrook, NY transfer station he transformed with Jim Brownell.

Joseph Magnarella a transfer attendant at the Millbrook, NY transfer station he transformed with Jim Brownell.

Service of Boring Academicians

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Professor 2

Wall Street Journal columnist and behavioral economist Dan Ariely answered the query of reader Rachel who among her questions asked: “How can experts be so bad at explaining ideas to others? Is this a requirement of academia?”

Professor 3Ariely’s reply was a bit longer than this, but the crux: “…..when we know something and know it well, it is hard for us to appreciate what other people understand. This problem is sometimes called ‘the curse of knowledge.’ We all suffer from this affliction, but it is particularly severe for my fellow academics. We study things until they seem entirely natural to us and then assume that everyone else easily understands them too. So maybe the type of clumsiness you heard is indeed something of a professional requirement.”

What happened to “know your audience and speak/write accordingly?” Letting academics off the hook like this smacks of condoning laziness with a dash of arrogance and a pinch of smugness. Either that or it translates to “don’t invite academics to speak with anyone outside their specialty,” which would be a shame.

Sometimes it’s the listener’s fault, not the speaker’s. Perhaps they don’t relate. I wasn’t in college long before I discovered what’s obvious: A professor who is dry as burnt toast to some is a fascinating lecturer to others. We all have our Dr. Blackwell. He was a typical absent minded professor who walked into walls, was awkward and long-winded and drove most of my classmates nuts. I found his words riveting and his clumsy ways charming.

Leon Botstein 2You can fill a thimble with what I know about music and yet I understand what the president of Bard College, Dr. Leon Botstein—also a conductor and scholar—says when he lectures an audience at one of his concerts. No doubt he covers different ground in a class of musicians. Botstein, [photo left], an academician if ever there was one, was president of a now-defunct college at 23 and joined Bard in this role before he was 30. He’s now 68.

Do you think that Ariely lets academics off too easily or do you agree with him—that they are what they are, live with it, amen. Do academicians feel pride in not being understood?

Professor 1

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