Yesterday presented itself in the usual way: market my book; elicit responses from emails; write an entertaining yet insightful blog; upload book to Kindle. The list went on and my patience grew wary. The muscles in my neck spasmed creating…you guessed it.. a literal pain in the neck. Book marketing is not for the weak in courage and fortitude.
Finally I departed for my once a year pedicure at a local spa. Oh mind you, I get my toes pedicured about every three weeks. It’s an interesting experience and smile-worthy as I listen to the Vietnamese chatter. However today’s trip took me to the upscale salon where I received my water in a real glass and proceeded to the beautiful massage chair where I began to unwind.
The nail technician graciously asked how my day was going. I mumbled something about chaos and chronic neck pain. And then she did something we all could model from her genuine concern: she asked specifically what caused the problems. So again I tried to coherently develop a sentence about publishing a book and the many problems associated with it.
The lady in the chair next to mine perked up and leaned forward. I recognize you! The paper did an article about your book and the situations you encountered as a teacher. You’re that teacher! With my homely toes receiving the saw treatment from the emory board, I humbly acknowledged I was indeed that person. And thus began our conversation about the worsening conditions in education and the poor treatment of teachers. For you see, she used to teach. We retired teachers’ abilities to find relevant topics never fails.
If you thought I was merely a sour grape teacher who was asked to leave her position and then decided to get even by writing a book, you could not assess the situation any worse! If a measurably successful teacher, with tenure, can be dismissed in one afternoon after dedicating her life to educating children for 46 years, this is NOT an anomaly. It’s happening all over in America’s schools. Lesson learned from the conversation: a local school district made her life as a teacher challenging and she was happy to have it behind her.
After the retired teacher left, her chair was occupied by another woman whose body reflected walking art. Tattoos always intrigued me so of course I asked about hers. How that conversation led to teaching, I am not sure. Yes, she too was a retired teacher. Her experiences were a kaleidoscope of finding herself in the middle of a switchblade fight and helping lost children find themselves. Lesson learned from this conversation: university professors are not capable in preparing today’s teachers, due to the issue of not spending much time in the public schools as an instructor.
Teachers are leaving…not just “old teachers” but ones with a lifetime of finding success through failure, tremendous subject knowledge and a passion to raise up children to successful adults. The millennial educators seldom possess all three of these attributes. There needs to be a balance of old and new approaches. I do not believe our school boards or administrations understand that concept. Perhaps sometime they will find themselves receiving a pedicure and listening to the trials and tribulations of teachers. Perhaps then they’ll recognize the purity of the public servant called teacher. Will it be too late?