While waiting for a haircut today, I sat near the window. I watched people rushing across the parking lot. They all looked preoccupied and in a hurry. Where was everyone going? Back to work? Off to lunch? Whatever places they were headed, none of them seemed happy to be on their way. If they looked discouraged and unhappy to me, how must they look to God?
I truly believe that each person born possesses a unique talent. Our time in school should be spent finding and nurturing that talent. Instead it is spent making sure we are all as alike as we can be and that no one gets left behind. This makes for frustrated, unhappy adults.
I’ve finally decided to embrace my retirement and enjoy this age. I believe I have a writing talent. I’ve written every day for most of my life. The amount of material I have already written and stored on this computer is astounding. If I were to attempt to publish all of it before I leave this earth, I don’t think that would be possible. My youngest son has said anything I don’t get published, he will publish when I’m gone . . . like Emily Dickinson’s sister did.
I think I was a good teacher. I enjoyed teaching, especially the early years. Lately teaching is so regulated that the creativity and joy has been sucked right out of it. I was sometimes criticized for not teaching the way they wanted everyone to teach, but I got better results and the children enjoyed their lessons. Perhaps it was good for me; perhaps God enjoyed peeking into my classroom, but some of the principals I worked for could not envision any way to teach, except the standard, state mandated, “best practices” they harped on. Some of the principals enjoyed my lessons. There was one principal who said she had no idea what I was doing, but to keep doing it because I was getting results.
Seriously, even in our chosen professions, must we all do the work the exact same way? I went back to school to get my Masters Degree when the principal I then worked for insisted every teacher do the same thing at the same time every day. She wanted all the classrooms for each grade level to flow when she did her morning “walk thrus”. If First Grade Teacher A was reading a big book and she walked into First Grade Teacher B’s room, she wanted to see and hear the same big book being read. Uh, how about if one of the children had a question? Or a nose bleed? Or required attention . . . was I to keep on reading or what? I’m serious. Unless you’ve worked with twenty some six year old students daily, you have no idea what happens in the groups. I had to get out of what felt like a strait jacket job and do something else for awhile.
A few years later I was blessed with the most wonderful principal at the end of my teaching career. I had earned a Masters Degree in Reading Education by then. I had also been trained in Reading Recovery and taught that for three years. My final 4 1/2 years of teaching were spent working at a school as an Intervention Reading Teacher for Kindergarten and First Graders, and it was the happiest time in my working career. The standard teaching method when teaching Reading is to use the same book for a week stressing different concepts each day. I took notes on my small groups of students daily. I noticed as they read, what problems they had. I found a new book for the next day that had the kind of words in it they needed to work on. I did this for ten groups five days a week. I swapped books out and we enjoyed every day reading in my classroom.
While earning my Reading degree, I’d also written two articles on teaching Reading. One of them called “The Classroom Read Aloud” had been accepted for publication by Teachers of Vision before I found my wonderful final teaching job. The other one, “How To Get Your Students To Write More”, was published a couple years later by the same magazine.
While I enjoyed teaching, I enjoyed writing more. I would come home and sit down and write, or I’d wake up early and write. I hope in retirement I can find publishers for all these manuscripts and poems.
I have a friend who makes the most beautiful baked goods I have ever seen. I’ve encouraged her to open a bakery. She could bake all day and make a fortune. I have another friend with a beautiful singing voice who trudges to work daily while ignoring her talent (“gift”).
I imagine all those people I saw who looked so unhappy crossing the parking lot this morning would have been glowing with happiness if they were using their God given gifts. It made me wonder how we appear to God? If we truly believe he provides and will provide for us, why don’t we use what he’s given us and quit working doing something we don’t enjoy, so we can make sure we provide for ourselves?