I’ve been teaching for 9 years. This is a second career for me. To pay for college (graduated in ‘96) I painted the outside of homes. This turned into a lucrative business, and I liked working for myself. Eventually, I wanted to do something more with my life. Because I enjoyed connecting with people and communicating ideas, and because I thought investing in youth to affect the future was a noble and intelligent goal, I decided to enter the elementary education field. Boy, am I glad I did! Naturally, this story is much longer, but I wanted to just provided the basics, here.
The past 9 years have provided plenty of professional development opportunities, but I had yet to attend many conferences. This past weekend I visited #Rewire19 and was energized and inspired by a long list of incredible presenters.
#ReWire19🙌highlights @Glennr1809 @bethhill2829 @JayBilly2 @mrnavas @burgessdave @mrnavas @khwtekgirl @kerszi @BethHouf @MsLeeTeacher @Gameboydrew @MrWeimann @thewrightleader @spaul6414 @PaulONeill1972 @DynamicDuda338 @Flipgrid @OnCourseK12 @ariellehg @APSuperGray @APDirCI_ERuiz pic.twitter.com/TVtHSjrrWJ
— Laura Brower (@laurabeess) October 5, 2019
In addition to learning, I felt like I made meaningful friendships with these mentors. Something that plagued me, though, was the idea of how much teaching many people had under their belt. There were numbers like “Teaching 20+ Years” thrown all over the place. Is it necessary to teach a long time before you share pedagogical practices with peers?
The sunrise on way to #rewire19 was prelude to awesomeness. @thomascmurray @thewrightleader @Rdene915 @JayBilly2 @mrshesposito @SJSaragusa @Tara_Desiderio @AliFisher822 @moyer_anthony @tracyscottkelly @Glennr1809 @BethHouf @mr_isaacs @mr_tbloom pic.twitter.com/TgcAKR25Km
— Matt Weimann (@MrWeimann) October 4, 2019
This question made me feel like a latecomer to a party. Wait, what’s that expression?
I do sport a pretty mean #Bowtie.
Beyond #Fashion, I feel like I do have something to offer to this party; a type of experience that didn’t come from teaching many decades in the classroom. And, I am not just talking about having run a successful entrepreneurial painting company, either. I am a “Late Bloomer”.
This is one of my new *All-Time-Favorite* books: “Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement” by Rich Karlgaard. I heard about this book from an interview with the author on the “Smart People Podcast”.
It’s a worthy #podcast.
I don’t listen every single one, but the ones I catch are pretty interesting. I started reading #LateBloomers after listening to an interview with the author. I’m loving it! pic.twitter.com/P4x7xbl49x
— Matt Weimann (@MrWeimann) September 15, 2019
As I read the text, many things happened simultaneously. One, I felt my insecurity of seeming-career-procrastination melt away as I realized that I had gained many useful life lessons that were presently helping me be a good teacher, today. If I had gone right into teaching, straight out of college… first of all, that couldn’t have happened because I didn’t even study pedagogy! …But, if my younger-self had entered the education career field, I would have certainly burned out and failed. It is only through allowing myself to bloom later in life, that I am experiencing this wonderful world of teaching. While I may not be able to place a “20+ years” near my name when it comes to teaching, I have been preparing for this position all my life!
Secondly, the book “Late Bloomers” has caused me to view my students differently. Some students will be early bloomers. These kids are already shining in school. They are acing tests, excelling in reading and math capabilities. Everyone is excited for these students. But, what about the “Late Bloomers” who will need several decades to finally open up and realize their potential?
I think every educator would do well to read this book. When we differentiate our instruction, we work hard to enrich students who need to be challenged right now, but what about the students who will eventually grow into shining stars?
There are plants that take several years before blooming. If a gardener focused only on the early bloomers and allowed weeds to overtake the Stargazers (my favorite flower), he would miss out on quite a show, not to mention the marvelous fragrance. The gardner must make sure these July blooms are planted properly, watered and cared for appropriately, and protected from voracious sun-hogs.
Whether you are a “Late-Blooming” teacher like me or a quick start out of the gate, make sure you are conscientious to the idea that within your walls are flowers that will take quite a while to bloom… And, that’s okay. In a world “Obsessed with Early Achievement”, and boy is it ever! …It’s our job, as educators, to power or fuel the patience everyone (parents, administrators, employers, etc.) will need to practice in order to see these blooms to their marvelous opening.
What are you doing to empower potential “Late Bloomers” in your classroom?
2 thoughts on “Late Bloomers”
One thing I always try to do in my courses is make some real attempt to let students know that “real” experience matters. Part of what I try to teach them is that their experience matters and to try to learn to use that in thinking about texts
I see this even more pronounced in my own children. As I watch the five of them each bloom in their own time I am amazed at what can happen when we are patient. Not pushing and not pulling back are important aspects of every parent as well as teacher. The hard part about teaching is that we don’t really get to know our students until we are well into the school year. And this is why I think it is very important to also get to know parents so that we can know where the students have been in order to help them and guide them in where they are going. All in good time. Great post, Matt! Thank you!