Late Bloomers

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. 

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?

IMG_9978This question made me feel like a latecomer to a party. Wait, what’s that expression?

#FashionablyLate 

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”.

 

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? 

IMG_9179I 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? 

“That’s Okay, I have a Superpower!”

Three of Scarlet’s cousins came to visit this past weekend (July, 2019). We experienced all of the classic summer stuff: swimming in the pool, playgrounds, and s’mores. It was a blast; Especially the swimming. 

IMG_4867Scarlet’s mommy insisted that Scarlet be lathered in a strong sunblock before getting into the pool. That is normal, and all of the kids had to forego the inevitable wait period of letting the lotion dry a little before getting into the pool; Collective “Ugh!”

Additionally, Scarlet needed to have her cochlear implant (CI) equipment changed to waterproof wires and coils. We recently received new pool appropriate boxes to put the CI processor inside to keep it safe from water damage. It takes a while to get all of this situated. 

While everyone was patient enough, no one wants to wait even one extra second when a beautiful refreshing pool is calling your name on a hot summer day! They all waited for Scarlet to finish getting ready before diving in, though, which I thought was very classy.

It was also friendly and kind for Scarlet’s cousins to help her realize that one of her coils was not on her head, but dangling in the pool. This happened constantly throughout the day. Everyone was very patient, another classy trait.

At the end of the day, Scarlet’s mommy Sonia read “Scarlet’s Superpower” to the cousins. Afterward, we discussed the superpower of not being able to hear. Sonia relayed a cute and funny story to me.

This past week Scarlet had a dentist appointment. When the technician was preparing to clean Scarlet’s teeth, he apologized for the loud noise that the air pump was about to make. “A child recently tampered with it, and it broke,” he explained.

Without skipping a beat, Scarlet reached up to her head, and while removing her coils, exclaimed, “That’s alright, I have a Superpower.” I loved the story and was proud of my daughter for taking charge of the situation. Not only was she perfectly comfortable with the fact that she wears CI equipment in order to hear, but Scarlet was proud to display its functionality. How many kids -and adults- are embarrassed of equipment that helps them with a disability? 

This is the message of “Scarlet’s Superpower”: Try to take negative situations and turn them into positive opportunities.

When the kids were waiting for their sunscreen to dry before getting into the pool, Sonia told everyone that Scarlet still has to “waterproof” her CI equipment. The horrible task of waiting turned into an opportunity to learn about water-damage and how to keep water out of things. It also masked the task of buying time. They would have had to stand around waiting, anyway! 

The next time you are tempted to complain about something, see if there is anything positive that could be gleaned from the situation. We can all possess the superpower of seeing the positive. It takes practice, discipline, and sometimes creativity. Good luck!

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Book Information:

Scarlet’s Superpower is available from the Apple Bookstore in digital form for free: https://books.apple.com/us/book/scarlets-superpower/id1461703800

And, it can be purchased for the Kindle App from Amazon for $2.99: https://www.amazon.com/Scarlets-Superpower-Matthew-Weimann-ebook/dp/B07RLFC26K/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=scarlet%27s+superpower&qid=1563187286&s=gateway&sr=8-2