I serve educators as the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee.

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Why are teachers dismissed? Sometimes teachers are not a good fit at a particular school. Despite well-meaning efforts and good intentions, it just doesn’t work out. What is an administrator to do?

Many times, in fact, the teacher is simply just dismissed. I think this is a poor strategy and reflective of mediocre management, especially if an administrator’s first reaction is to simply get rid of a teacher. Keep in mind we are not talking about an incompetent teacher. As an organization, we understand teacher quality matters.

Often the problem is not about ability. Sometimes it is that a new teacher doesn’t fit in socially. And schools can be cliquish. It takes some time for a new teacher or a veteran teacher relocating to a school to make new friends or build a relationship with other faculty members.

Think about it like this:  if a teacher does not get quickly embedded into a school culture, he or she jeopardizes his or her entire career over social factors. That doesn’t seem fair.

There is little doubt that many teacher dismissals are arbitrary. Too much of public education is still subjective, rather than objective. Teacher assessment is a difficult task and generally is not done with exacting measures. That means we are letting good teachers walk out of our schools, never to return. This may be due to bad luck of an inappropriate school assignment, lack of support by other educators or unreasonable but influential parents/guardians. It could also be bad management by school administrators who fail to create a manner in which teacher improvement is attainable, or some other unknown factor.

Another scenario that is beginning to escalate is the loss of veteran educators. Some districts may be targeting veteran educators for dismissal or simply encouraging them to retire or move on. This leaves a greater number of less-experienced teachers in some schools. This could prove to be harmful to students, particularly in socio-economically disadvantaged and urban schools.

Of course, teacher burnout is often higher at socio-economically disadvantaged and urban schools/districts. And if we are truthful, we must acknowledge that problems that go along with poverty undeniably make some kids harder to educate and are not so easy to address—especially for beginning teachers. The problem is much greater than who the teachers in a school may be.

Research points out that people who suffer job loss may go through some predictable emotional stages that may include lowered self-esteem, despair, shame, anger and feelings of rejection. Teachers are no different. We need to examine ways to intercede and work to give our educators the benefit of time to improve. Yet we must recognize that the most important task of a teacher is the education of the student. A school district must start with support before it moves to accountability.

At Professional Educators of Tennessee, we regularly seek input of our members to design necessary professional learning opportunities to help the teacher in the classroom, as well as the administrator who wants to assist their staff. We have developed a collaborative relationship with many districts built on this premise and want to make sure all children have great teachers.

Education is not as simple as manufacturing widgets. It cannot be measured by charts, graphs or standardized tests, despite the fact that many believe it can. So, before you fire a teacher or damage a career or a person, we hope that an administrator has exhausted every means at their disposal to invest in that educator and help them reach their full potential. In our opinion, an administrator’s number one objective outside the education of children is to provide support to our teachers.

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. 

 

“Education is not as simple as manufacturing widgets. It cannot be measured strictly by charts, graphs or standardized tests, despite the fact that many believe it can.”  –JC Bowman 

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Schools must be safe zones for students and teachers. That means the first step in school safety is securing the perimeter of a school. It seems like simple logic that we should keep intruders out and also make sure the area inside those boundaries is safe for children and adults. Students are our priority, but teachers need protection too.  Our School Safety Survey Results are here. 

Unfortunately, as we have seen far too frequently, our schools are easy targets for those who wish to harm others. When premeditated attacks and school shootings occur, they are usually over within minutes. Most of the time law enforcement is simply not able to respond quickly enough to the event and lives are needlessly lost.

Intruders, who wish to hurt our students and teachers, are usually very familiar with the schools’ defense system and create plans around that information. More than likely, the defense strategy is in the student handbook posted online. These people know when to attack, where to go and often how to escape. Students and teachers alike, as well as approved visitors should have a visible identification badge on them at all times. There needs to be secure exterior doors to limit building access points, and each district should develop a uniform policy for entry into a school.

Former Metro Nashville Principal Bill Gemmill, pointed out: “All schools need upgraded security, whether it is as simple and reasonable as inside locks on classroom doors.” It is also time to put metal detectors in every school across America. The federal government could absorb the cost by simply eliminating any of the already wasteful programs they are funding. Public school safety must be a priority at every level of government. If you see something, say something, and then someone in authority must do something.

The last line of defense that we can have for our kids is an armed person willing and ready to defend them if the unspeakable should happen. That is why it is critical that we look at expanding the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. This is a highly effective program that serves many purposes during the school year and is invaluable where it now exists. It is important that the program be directed by a local law-enforcement agency, working in conjunction with the local education agency. The school can employ and utilize additional security, but the primary responsibility should fall to local law enforcement.

The Center for Problem-Oriented Policing has outlined three basic roles of an SRO: Safety Expert and Law Enforcer, Problem Solver and Liaison to Community Resources and Educator. While all three are important functions, the primary role should focus on the law enforcement and safety component. SRO’s should be preserving order and promoting safety on campus and serving as first responders in the event of critical incidents at schools, such as accidents, fires, explosions, and other life-threatening events. They are not supplementary school administrators dealing with minor school discipline issues or emergency instructors. It is clear that we must better define SRO programs, what we want them to accomplish, and better analyze how we measure their effectiveness. Law Enforcement and School District Leaders should yield to the law enforcement professionals on matters of school safety and law enforcement.

It is time to discuss the gun issue. I strongly support the 2nd Amendment and have a handgun carry permit myself. We must have common sense approach to who, when, and where we can carry firearms, without infringing on the rights of law abiding citizens. We should raise the age for the purchase of certain guns to the age of 21, with exemption to active duty military. We prohibit drinking of alcoholic beverage until 21, we should follow suit here as well. Many young people just are not prepared for the responsibility of drinking or owning a firearm. We should make stronger background checks, considering factors such as criminal background and mental health. We should also prohibit bump stocks that can convert guns into automatic weapons. We should more aggressively punish those who commit crimes with guns. But we will need to be careful that the policy is reasonable.

Policymakers, at the state and federal level, are also likely to look at legislation that empowers individual school districts to determine for themselves what direction they want to take on school safety, including qualified, certified and licensed volunteer school personnel going armed in their building. If a district decides to allow trained and armed teachers and administrators into the schools, the decision should not be taken lightly. The state should never mandate educators having to carry firearms or prohibit them from carrying, if permitted by the district. It is a decision that should be made at the local level based on the needs and size of the community.

Certainly, armed teachers who possess training or a military background would deter some intruders. However, trained law enforcement personnel are much preferred and would be a much greater deterrent. Mike Conrad, a teacher in Detroit said in a recent interview: “I think that the moment that you put a gun on the hip of a teacher in a classroom, that we have accepted the norm that school shootings will not stop, that we are now on the front line to defend against them, instead of trying to find a way to stop them.” The subject is very emotional, with good arguments coming from either side of the debate, which is why each community must decide for themselves this issue.

School safety policies must be flexible and practical. However, the issue of improved school security will not be resolved in the current political environment, as long as real solutions are not considered based on a liberal or conservative bias. It is time to quit playing political volleyball with this issue. Real lives, those of children and adults, are at stake in our schools. The time of talking is past; it is time to take action. Any viable option that can lead to a safer environment in our schools and communities should be on the table.

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee. To schedule an interview please contact Audrey Shores, Director of Communications, at 1-800-471-4867 ext.102.

This article also appeared at:  http://www.proedtn.org/news/388542/No-More-Political-Volleyball.htm

The School Safety Survey Results are Found here:  http://www.proedtn.org/news/395676/Tennessee-School-Safety-Survey-Results.htm

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If you are not a regular reader of the education blog Dad Gone Wild written by TC Weber, add it to your list.  He will make you laugh, he will make you mad, and he will make you cry…sometimes in the same article.  His latest column, So Here We Are, goes where few writers dare to go by pointing out: “Nashville has long been over due for a conversation on race and how it plays out in our public institutions.” Weber is right.

In the growing debate over Metro Schools Superintendent Shawn Joseph, Mr. Weber asks the million-dollar question:  How much of the criticism directed toward the Director of Schools is rooted in the color of his skin as opposed to his performance?  Answer that question than proceed to the debate.  If you are judging him because of the color of his skin, you need to exercise your constitutional right and remain silent.  If it is based on performance, then take Weber’s advice and “evaluate with the same rigor we demand of others.”

At times the Dad Gone Wild columns go on for too long, but some of it is so brilliant one wonders if the education students at Lipscomb, Trevecca, Belmont, or Vanderbilt shouldn’t be required to read his columns prior to graduating.  It is where reality and policy intersect, along with a healthy dose of investigative journalism.  A local newspaper should certainly pick up Dad Gone Wild or Mr. Weber should expand his reach beyond Music City and go statewide or national.

Weber states that he wants to “continually push the conversation forward and to expand my boundaries and knowledge base.”  He adds, “I personally don’t believe race is an issue that we can ignore or a conversation we can shy away from. Too many of our important decisions, especially in education, are rooted in race. Funding, programing, and attendance are just some of the areas where race influences our decisions.”  He is correct.  And we all have “skin” in that game.   Then he states: “my goal is to support policy that is best for kids, families, and teachers.”  That point is lost on far too many people, from the bureaucrat to the politician.

Weber emphasizes that “this conversation suffers, as Nashville is currently suffering, from a lack of leadership.”  He believes there “is currently a leadership vacuum in Nashville that starts at the mayoral level and descends downward.”  It would be hard to disagree with this statement, although I might suggest that the grassroots cannot be afraid to lead, and, if needed, push the so called “leaders” out of the way.

I have no problem with the Superintendent rapping along with a song, no matter how vulgar it may be or not be.  That’s his prerogative.  He will ultimately answer to the community if he crosses the professional line.  My opinion of Shawn Joseph will be based strictly on his performance, or lack thereof.  My question is: How do you think he is doing? 

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. 

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The edge of chaos is a space between order and disorder.  For some, creativity is often found at the edge of chaos. In 2009, neuroscientists stated that evidence is emerging which suggests that operating at the edge of chaos may drive our brain’s astonishing capabilities. In fact, our complex brains may thrive on the chaotic.  In human terms, that may mean a dislike of rules and rigidity and formality, as well as a penchant for not following established rules.

Many people are most creative when their mind is most chaotic. However, a state of chaos is not sustainable and can certainly have negative effects. Albert Einstein, a genius by most accounts, said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

In A Journey into Chaos: Creativity and the Unconscious, Dr. Nancy C. Andreasen, states that the “capacity to be creative, to produce new concepts, ideas, inventions, objects or art, is perhaps the most important attribute of the human brain.”  She then points out: “Understanding how creative ideas arise from the brain is one of the most fascinating challenges of contemporary neuroscience.”

Is there a relationship between creativity and high intelligence?  Andreasen states that there is “a common assumption is that creativity and high intelligence are the same thing.”  This is, as she points out “a misconception.” Andreasen also studied the relationship between creativity and mental illness, which had inconclusive results because of limited participants.   It is clear consciousness, the unconscious and creativity are all important facets of the human mind.

In 1985, Robert Sternberg put forward his Triarchic Theory of Intelligence, contending that previous definitions of intelligence are too narrow because they are based solely on intelligences that can be assessed in IQ tests. Instead, Sternberg believes types of intelligence are broken down into three subsets: analytic, creative, and practical.

Mogbel Alenizi, a lecturer at Qassim University in Saudi Arabia wrote: “The field of creativity is a broad one, with definitions varying in and between countries and no consensus on how best to test for creativity or measure development.”  He added: “However, agreement is emerging that creativity is complex and the investment theory that suggests a combination of factors contribute to creativity (intellectual abilities, knowledge, styles of thinking, personality, motivation and environment).”  Certainly, genetics could factor in that equation at some level.

The wide range of approaches to creativity—from psychoanalytic, to psychological, to neurobiological—generally reveals the diversity of the field, but has led some to describe it as “a degenerating research program,” as Mark Batey, a senior lecturer in organizational psychology at the University of Manchester, wrote in his article on measuring creativity.

There are also global differences on our conceptions of creativity.  Research has tended to focus more on the person and the process than on the outcome or the social context in which the creativity occurs.  Which opens up a whole field for educators and researchers that may want to reach their creative students, in which formal education or standardized test fail to accurately depict.  It especially difficult, when creativity can be hard to identify and even more difficult to measure.

Education expert Sir Ken Robinson notes that in the factories of the 20th century, creativity was not valued. However, he points out it’s critical for success in the 21st Century.  Our school system, despite its imperfections has still produced students who have enabled America to lead in innovation around the globe.  The number of patents and innovations are one testament to our success, despite an education system that often limits creativity.  This has led to a tug of war between proponents of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) and advocates for STEAM lessons, which add art to the mix.  We should welcome that debate.

So, we must ask ourselves:  Are our schools, which seem so accountability driven, measured by standardized tests reaching all students?  Are we stifling creativity in our schools?  What does success even look like in each school? Each community?  Each state?  Perhaps, we need more creativity, and use of our own imagination to address those issues?  Possibly we need to re-think many factors in how we measure success in public education?  Sometimes, through examination, we may find that in order, a little disorder is good.  Welcome to the Edge of Chaos.

What do you think? 

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. 

“If you don’t understand — from the school district to the superintendents — that we want our teachers held harmless, then I’m sorry, you’re tone-deaf,” said State Representative Eddie Smith.

That message was heard and understood statewide. The state issued two very important guidance documents that make clear that message, which was released by the Tennessee Department of Education. Professional Educators of Tennessee, along with many others were privileged to work with the Department of Education and add our input. In addition, we will be putting together a webinar on this matter.

The guidance that the Department developed was a result of thoughtful and collaborative efforts to ensure that our state follows all state and federal laws. The new legislation that states that no adverse actions for students, teachers or schools will result from the 2017-18 TNReady administration. These two key documents, which were shared with districts and schools today, are posted on the state website, along with a list of initial improvements the state is making to the state assessment program:

  • Detailed Evaluation Guidance (here)
  • FAQ that provides an overview of the various areas the new laws impact, including student, education, school, and district accountability (here)

Some highlights from these documents:

  • We will still follow the Tennessee Teaching Evaluation Enhancement Act of 2015, which adjusted the growth component of teacher evaluation for a multi-year period, and we will provide educators with the best possible option for calculating their level of overall effectiveness (LOE). In addition, educators who have 2017-18 TNReady data included in their composite will have the ability to nullify their entire LOE score this year IF they choose.
  • Regarding school accountability, rather than issuing A-F grades, we will provide information on school performance based on the various indicators in our ESSA plan, but we will not publish an overall summative label. No adverse action will be taken against a school based on 2017-18 TNReady data. We will still name Reward and Priority schools, but no school will be identified as a Priority school using 2017-18 TNReady data.
  • Districts can decide whether TNReady data factors into students’ scores. If a district chooses to do so, then that cannot result in a lower final grade for a student. This means that districts may include scores for some students and exclude scores for others, or a student may have TNReady scores included for some specific subject areas and not others.

We believe everyone at the Tennessee Department of Education by issuing this guidance, are seeking to follow the letter of the law. Look for an announcement of the webinar coming soon at www.proedtn.org within the next few days.

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee.

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Our nation’s security and immigration policy are federal responsibilities, yet it is has become another example of our federal government not meeting a legitimate need of American citizens.   In fact, we may have reached a tipping point on this subject. In Nashville, for example, foreign-born residents have increased from 2.5 percent of its population a decade ago to more than 12 percent today.

Our country was launched on principles that embrace people that legally come to our country. All immigrants should endeavor to learn and embrace American culture and civic heritage pride, as well as our political heritage.

We have established, and must enforce, the procedures of legal immigration and naturalization at the federal level. It is clear that our current immigration policies have are failing, largely because we have not enforced what has been established or secured our borders. People now arriving on our borders anticipate asylum the minute they get into our country.

Our nation has always welcomed people to our shores. In fact, on the Statute of Liberty in New York Harbor there is a poem by Emma Lazarus to remind us of freedom and opportunity that says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

However, we must require and strongly support a legal method of immigration. It is true that immigration is not always a question of law and order.  It is also a problem for all of humanity.  Immigrants, both legal and illegal, are real human beings. They are not merely a number or statistic.  The recent wave of illegal children crossing our borders is alarming.  They are being sent by their parents, by questionable means, and encompass the hopes and dreams of their families.

In many ways, immigrants are doing what almost any of us would do if our own children were starving, countries were unsafe, or if they have no hope for the future. And too often in our discussion about immigration, that perception is lacking. Who among us would not do whatever was necessary to see that our children were safe, had food or a chance for a better future? However well mean-meaning, what are the ramifications of these children immigrating to our country and state for public education? State laws that are designed to marginalize immigrant families in the name of deterring illegal immigration have largely been declared unconstitutional.

For example, in 1982, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Plyler vs. DOE that children in our country here illegally have the same right to attend public schools as other citizens. In addition, these children are obliged to attend school until they reach a mandatory age. So, there will be an impact in whatever state that these children reside, including here in Tennessee.

So regardless of our opinion on the subject, the Plyler ruling made clear that public schools could not deny admission to any student. Nor could they treat any student differently or prevent the right of access to school. In addition, public schools cannot require students or parents to disclose their immigration status. Data by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families in 2014 showed Tennessee has already received 760 of the more than 30,000 children this year, about 2.5 percent of the unaccompanied children crossing into the United States.

School personnel, especially administrators or educators involved with student intake activities will have their hands tied this fall. We expect it will create numerous issues at local level, and for our state. It is time our federal policymakers do their job and create a tenable immigration policy to safeguard our borders and create legal pathways to citizenship. Failure to do so merely continues bad policy and places public education at the forefront of the battle.

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow him on Twitter @jcbowman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited.

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State Representative Harold Love recently shared one of the most inconceivable statistics in Tennessee.  The Nashville zip code 37208 has the highest percentage of incarceration in the nation, according to a Brookings Institution analysis.  The school to prison pipeline is unquestionable.   A child cannot succeed in life if they are denied the opportunities of a quality education. Lack of opportunity and quality education establishes the pathway to incarceration. Education remains the key to escaping poverty, even as poverty remains the biggest obstacle to education.

Tennessee has a richness of poverty.  According to the Southern Education Foundation, over 50 percent of the nation’s children are in poverty. Poverty is a vast and complex issue that plagues communities in a seemingly endless cycle. Accompanying poverty is its sidekick, hunger.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.3 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life. These 8 states have statistically higher food insecurity rates than the US national average (14.6%): Arkansas (21.2%), Mississippi (21.1%), Texas (18.0%), Tennessee (17.4%), North Carolina (17.3%), Missouri (16.9%), Georgia (16.6%), and Ohio (16.0%). More than 1 in 5 children is at risk of hunger. Among African-Americans and Latinos, it’s 1 in 3 according to the USDA.

Carlos Lee, a PhD student at LSU wrote: “Students who live in poverty come to school every day without the proper tools for success. As a result, they are commonly behind their classmates physically, socially, emotionally or cognitively.”  According to Eric Jensen at the Center for New York City Affairs, high-poverty schools are more likely to struggle with school climate concerns such as absenteeism and truancy, bullying, and trust and engagement issues that can weaken the learning environment. The road is to prison may arise out of the home, but it also veers through our school systems.  Poverty puts too many students at a disadvantage before they even step foot in a classroom.

Distinguished educator Paul Reville, and Harvard University, launched the Education Redesign Lab to pilot a revolutionary approach to create a new, more comprehensive education model better designed to close achievement gaps and provide each and every child the support and opportunities they need to be prepared for success. Nashville or Memphis should also look at this approach.

The theory of the Harvard Education Redesign Lab is putting forth to overcome widespread inequity in child development and education support is that “we must dramatically redesign, align, and integrate our systems of child development and education.”  They also believe we must start in early childhood to “tailor instruction to meet each child’s needs, while braiding health and social services with schools, and providing access for all to high-quality expanded learning and enrichment opportunities.”  This, they argue, gives all children a “much fairer chance of succeeding in education and in life.”

I am mindful that the counter argument is that we do not want the state to raise our children.  It grows dependence upon government.  This is true.  And I think we can put safeguards in place to easily prevent that from happening.  However, I also believe that all children are created in the image of God.  It is far more economical to educate a child, than it is to incarcerate an adult  That is why it is important to have private enterprise invest in this effort, not only with their money, but also their human capital. Leaders across our state need to make this a priority.

Our answer cannot be scores on a standardized test.  Studies from the American Psychological Association reveal the psychological effects of hunger on education. Hunger is known to cause depression, anxiety and withdrawal, all of which are obstructions to a child trying to focus on education. Our solution must be to prepare every child for success.  Perhaps we need to redefine what success looks like for those impacted by poverty?  We can, and we must, address these momentous challenges.

Just to recap:  Nashville zip code 37208 has the highest percentage of incarceration in the nation.  Tennessee students are some of the poorest in the nation.  We have the 4th highest food insecurity rate in the United States.  There is no better time for changing the trajectory for children than now.  We already know where those consequences lead.

Numerous philanthropic organizations have supported public education over the years, using their private dollars with public dollars to meet the needs of impoverished youth.  Tennessee has numerous organizations, from the Hyde Family Foundation in West Tennessee to the Frist Foundation in Middle Tennessee to the Niswonger Foundation in East Tennessee which could lead this type of effort.  It might even be something SCORE, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education could make their focus and mission.  Nashville is in their backyard.  We would be glad to assist.

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.  Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee.

 

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Mother.  Perhaps no other word speaks to as many people in any language or touches our heart.  Yet, when we write about mothers, the words rarely do justice to the subject.  We are rarely able to show our gratefulness to the women in our lives, the women who gave us life, or to those who give life to our children.  Mother is a word that sparks deep self-reflection when you reflect about the amazing importance this woman has on your life, growth as a person, or significance to your children it is inconceivable.   The hand of a bride becomes the hand of a mother, and the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

Before the man even discovers that he is going to be a father, the woman knows.   A myriad of emotions runs through her brain, some of them at the same time.  She may be anxious, afraid, confused or unprepared. And on the roller coaster ride of emotions, she will also be excited, happy, and joyful as they are about to embark on this life-changing journey.  Having a baby is undeniably hard work.   The best gift for a mother-to-be is continual support and assurance from those around her is that she can navigate this stage of life.  She does not know it yet, but she was created for this role and she will be ready for the moment.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote about being set aside even before birth.  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” Mothers know and love us as we grow inside of them.  They love us even before they meet us. It is a love that goes beyond explanation, it brings out the strongest emotions in the human soul.  Her raw feelings will run deep and certain, she will expose her deepest emotions to protect her children.  She knows the baby she holds in her arms will grow quickly. A mother’s love is the closest thing most children will experience to God’s love for us.

You never have to earn a mother’s love, nor could you buy it.  It is freely given.  And her love will last until her dying breath. Her prayers for her children are never-ending.  She may stay in a challenging marriage for the security and well-being of her children or escape for their safety.   She may be abused, verbally, physically or both.  She will put the needs of her children above her own.  She gave us life, never asking for anything in return.

Author Donna Ball wrote in At Home on Ladybug Farm: “Motherhood is a choice you make every day to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is, … and to forgive yourself over and over again for doing everything wrong.” For those who have lost their mother, whether recent or long ago, the day is particularly bittersweet.  Rutgers Professor Deborah Carr reminds us the day is: “marked by fading memories, or musings about what ‘could have been…’ if our mothers were still alive today.”

Mother’s Day isn’t just an activity designed to sell holiday cards to reflect on a mother’s compassion and influence.  If language is everything, we could not, even if we tried, honor the women that shapes and inspires our lives.   No matter how much you thank the woman who does it all for her children, once a year is never enough.  However, we must reflect on a mother’s sacrifice of tears, toil and time.  We must also acknowledge the unique value, vision and virtue of women.  So, to all the mothers, wives, daughters, aunts, sisters, grandmothers, mothers-in-law, stepmothers, godmothers, friends, teachers, and all women that have everlasting love for children, we honor you this Mother’s Day.

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.  You can follow him on his blog at www.jcbowman.com