Recently a very lovely friend of mine sent me this beautiful book on random acts of kindness. Just reading it brought me considerable joy. I want to share one of the stories and for you to reflect on what might have been your response to this situation... AN ACT OF KINDNESS CAN SOMETIMES TAKE INCREDIBLE COURAGE. I was at the country fair with my mother many years ago. I remember it was a very, very hot day and all around us children and parents were melting down. We were walking behind a woman with two small children. The children were crying and whining and the mother was getting increasingly upset. Finally she started to scream at them to shut them up; then she turned around and struck them both very hard. Just to see this happen right in front of me made me feel like I had been hit as well. Of course the kids started crying even more and the mother was on the verge of completely loosing control when my mother walked up to her, touched her arm, and said something like, "You poor dear, don't worry, sometimes things just get out of control for a moment". Then my mother offered to take the children over to the ice cream stand, buy them some ice cream, and sit with them while the woman took a little walk to compose herself. She returned about 10 minutes later, thanked my mother, hugged her children, and went on.
Last night I was at a gathering of friends and family to celebrate my sister, brother and my birthdays. As always within kiwi gatherings the conversation turned to what we do for employment. Present were two accounts, a gym trainer, a technician within the kiwifruit industry and a lawn mowing contractor. Each one of the them were lamenting over the fact that they do not really enjoy their jobs, when I piped up with a, “I love my job.” “Alright”, Warren said, “it’s unanimous everyone hates their job except Lynn”. Today I was revisiting some of those conversations in my head and the enormity of it struck me - imagine hating what you do!!!!!!
Sir Ken Robinson talks about this on the TED videos http://video.ted.com/talk/podcast/2010/None/SirKenRobinson_2010.mp4. He says that people “endure it (their jobs) rather than enjoy it and wait for the weekend. People who love what they do could not imagine doing anything else because they would say it is who they are.” He also talks about passion and how when we are doing something we love 1 hour can seem like 5 minutes or if you hate it 5 minutes can seem like 1 hour. This video is well worth watching particularly if you feel a slight draining of your enthusiasm or passion for what you do.
I can not think of a day in my teaching career either at St Peters Childcare or with ELP that I have not wanted to go to work. The enjoyment that I get from being around passionate teachers, meeting parents and working alongside children is just part of who I am and, like Sir Ken Robinson said, I could not imagine doing anything else.
The wonderful thing is that within my work I met many teachers who love their jobs and it shows. Recently I was at Paddington’s in Hamilton. The teachers within the centre ooze enthusiasm and passion. They want to know more, they want to do more and they love what they are doing. Marie was describing part of one families day to me -this knowledge I think - this comes out of teachers really deeply knowing their families as she talked about the emotional struggle of parents. For whatever reason one of the parents had started off their day in a bad space and this may have been compounded by the fact that they had to go to work and leave their precious child in the hands of someone else. Marie was aware of the anxiety of the mother and the first opportunity she got she took a photo of the child with her cellphone while he was busy engaged in play and sent this to the mother at work with a personal message. When the mother came in at the end of the day she said to Marie that this kind act took her day from a very low point into a much better place as she relax in the knowledge that her son was having a great day. Obviously Marie’s passion as a teacher drives her to provide the best care for children and parents.
Passionate teachers will find ways to connect with children and families. Bronfenbrenner would encourage us, just like Marie did, to care for, support and encourage the carers(parents, whānau) because this will create better outcomes for the children.