“Better courses, better curricula, better coverage, better teaching machines, will never resolve our dilemma in a basic way. Only persons, acting like persons in their relationships with their students, can even begin to make a dent on the most urgent problem of modern education.
Carl R. Rogers
We have many words to describe excellence in teaching “gifted,” “superior,” “distinguished,” “brilliant,” “remarkable,” “outstanding,” and “great,” among others. But what qualities are at the heart of these words, and how can those of us who have spent large parts of our professional lives in education develop these qualities? This was a challenge presented to me when I was requested to address a teacher’s convention in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. After considerable thought and reflection upon literally hundreds of teachers, my immediate plan of action was to raise you I.Q. (Invitational Quotient–are you inviting?, do people enjoy your company?). In the process of preparing my remarks I divided the topic into several categories, inviting professionally, inviting personally, and inviting others. The more thought given to the topic revealed the plan was not only for educators but everybody.
The headliner for this project, essential for raising you Invitational Quotient, was inviting yourself personally. For each of us to be successful, regardless of our occupation, it is essential to invite yourself personally, to maintain your own personal energy level and to nurture yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have found this to be especially true and essential since my retirement in 2008. Here are some practical ways:
- Take pleasure in stillness; While too much isolation can be harmful, taking time to be alone, to enjoy silence, to contemplate and meditate can be deeply rewarding. This has proven especially difficult for me. My brain needs to be occupied and operates like a police scanner constantly searching for things to do. The techniques of prayer centering have proven invaluable and makes my time of stillness a genuine pleasure.
- Keep in Shape (physical fitness). Whether it is an individual effort (long walks, jogging, swimming, exercising, gardening, or an organized sport (tennis, softball, golf, racquetball) it is important to maintain your physical well-being. I especially like comments made by one of my friends on Facebook concerning her involvement with her two sons in child’s play. I hasten to add these activities are rigorous and physically demanding.
- Live a long life: Take personal responsibility for your “life” support systems. This means being selective about what and how much you eat. It also includes eliminating habits that are injurious to your health; i.e smoking, alcohol consumption.
- Give a good report: It takes triple the amount of good reports to displace one bad report. Be of good cheer and proactive in your words and deeds. Be the person who lights up the room when you enter rather than lighting up the room when you leave.
- Charge you batteries: A way to avoid burn out or the “blues” is do something you truly enjoy, browse through a bookstore, explore some interesting place. I can still hear my mother say to my daddy “let’s go for a little ride” What she was really saying was, “I need to get away for a little while.” Don’t’ be afraid to pamper yourself with a concert, go to the movies, read a good novel, go on a shopping trip, a favorite meal, or a relaxing bath. When you invite yourself you will be amazed at the way your I.Q will soar.
- Start a treasury: This was especially meaningful for the teachers in the audience. Begin a special file of letters, awards, notes, and other note worthy recognition you have received over the years. When you feel down or doubt your worth, visit your personal Fort Knox.
- Live with a flourish: The importance of avoiding drabness and enriching one’s personal existence is self-evident. Find satisfaction from sources outside of your daily lifestyle or professional life. Surround yourself with people and things you like. Stand tall, dress well, laugh more and express your feelings. To live life fully requires intentional effort and taking a few risks.
If my comments have meaning, perchance we will meet again and I will have the opportunity to share the other aspects of “raising your Invitational Quotient”. Writing is a way for me to relax.