Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Little Push

push One story in my Lutheran Hour Ministries Daily Devotion was this:

“Yesterday, while standing in line at the bank, I struck up a conversation with a soldier.
During our talk, he told me he was a paratrooper. Impressed because I have a deep respect for heights, I asked him how many times he had jumped.
With a smile, he responded, "Pastor, I've never jumped. Not even once. But I can tell you I've been pushed more than 40 times."

It made me think about the times I needed a push in my teaching career. Sometimes I thought it was something awful that happened to me in my career, and later on, looking back, I realized that without that push, what I was experiencing currently would never have happened. When I was dissatisfied with my current school and moved to a different one, I felt refreshed and motivated but if I hadn’t moved, I would have been stagnant and disengaged along with my students.

Sometimes we would have a new program to follow in our school and all of the teachers would grumble and gripe. Yet, after we got used to the program and learned how to best implement it, we would see positive results with our students and realize that it was an effective program. Yet, for weeks and months, people were unhappy about trying something new. It took time and energy and patience. People wanted to do it the same old way. Then the administration had to push us into doing something new.

When new technology was introduced to the school, many teachers were anxious and didn’t want anything to do with it. I remember when the first smart boards came to our school. I think for the first year, they sat in classrooms and no one used it. Then new teachers came to the school and begged for them so they could use them. As the teachers began to use them, others could see how effective they were. The administration began to realize how this could be used in the classroom and wanted all of the teachers to use it but the teachers were not all on board. Then one year, the school district bought promethean boards (like smart boards) and put them in the entire classroom. Now all of the teachers are using them but they had to be pushed to use it. It became part of the teacher evaluations.

Just like those commercials where the siblings didn’t like what they were eating, they would give it to their little brother, saying, “Let Mikey eat it,” that is the way I was treated in my school. I loved to try new things and fiddle with it until I could figure out ways to make it work in my classroom. Where others complained about it sucking up their time, I saw it as a fun challenge. Soon, the administration noticed this, and I was usually the first one to get new technology which suited me fine. Others saw this as an inconvenience but I saw it as a way to get neat new stuff for my classroom. I began to look for new technology that no one else had and found a way for the school to get it for me to try. It might have involved writing grants or doing presentations to show how these things were effective in other schools. I was willing to do what I needed to get it so in a way, I was giving my school the push that they needed.

At times, my students needed that push too. Many of my students were unsuccessful in their school career until they got to my class. Soon they were making good grades and feeling good about themselves. In fact, they felt so good finally that they didn’t want to leave my class. I even had a couple of students start making failing grades near the end of school in hopes that they could stay in my class. I had to push them out of the nest which was as hard for me as it was for them. One year I had an 18 year old girl who had watched her mother get killed and she was so traumatized that she carried a stuffed animal and refused to talk or look at anyone. I got her an internship at the local animal shelter and eventually she started to talk and interact with others. She even gave up her stuffed animal. Then I had to move her to working in a nursing home because I wanted her to try new experiences while she had me as a support system. That was very hard for her but she was successful because of her nurturing spirit. Without my pushing, I think she would have become very isolated and depressed from withdrawing from the world.

Sometimes we all need a little push. Has someone’s push helped you, either personally or professionally? Has your push helped someone else? Please share your stories because I would love to hear them.

Original image: 'Down you go!'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/96878569@N00/2205802458 by: Maureen K

1 comment:

Urban School Teacher said...

I have just stumbled on your blog and like it a lot, particularly this post. The answer from the paratrooper is priceless.