Multiple Intelligences Newsletter, Vol 26, No 1

July 1, 2017

Greetings Multiple Intelligence Fans,

I hope that your summer is going well, and that you are finding some time to relax and refresh. As teachers and administrators know, being an educator – touching the future through our students – is a remarkably rewarding experience, but it comes with a cost. That cost is more than the out-of-pocket expense that teachers typically spend each year (estimated at $500 per year by Time Magazine) and it’s more than the countless hours that teachers and administrators give to their kids. I’m specifically referring to the cost of making a continual emotional investment in others. That means focusing foremost on their needs even at the expense of yours, listening, giving caring, giving, and more giving.

Please don’t misunderstand: We want teachers and administrators to invest in their students and to give of themselves; students need educators who care! We know that students perform better, regardless of their age or the subject matter, when they have a strong and positive relationship with their teacher. That’s because good teachers devote the time to truly know their students and show that they care. (Good principals do the same with their teachers.)

But it comes with a cost. The phenomenon of “caregiver burnout” – cited in WebMD at CareTooMuch? is typically associated with professionals in the medical profession, but it can also apply to educators. That intense caring commitment makes a positive difference for kids, but it also can take a toll on us. This means that we need a hiatus to take a deep breath, relax, and gain some emotional distance. Hopefully you can get a bit of renewal over the summer.

By now you may be wondering “Why is Tom writing about ‘caregiver burnout’ in Intelligence Connections, the Multiple Intelligences newsletter?” Actually, it’s quite simple!

When we care about our students – when we truly are invested in them and work to help them grow – their success becomes paramount, and our use of MI can be a powerful tool! MI is not a panacea; it can, however, help us frame our teaching in meaningful ways. By employing an MI approach to curriculum and instruction, we affirm that students have different strengths and these should be considered when we plan and teach. Using MI is a student-centric approach that embraces student differentiation.

And while relaxing during the summer helps, the best way to address caregiver burnout is by increasing students’ chances to succeed. That’s why MI is so relevant! When our students perform better, we smile more, are a bit less stressed, and hopefully can consider life beyond school. That doesn’t mean that we care less or invest fewer hours (some of us are pretty compulsive!), but it does mean that our efforts yield better results and that has a wonderfully positive impact on everyone! Using MI benefits students and teachers.

So how’s it going for you? I would be delighted to hear your comments, questions, or book recommendations.

A Few Relevant Articles

First, I frequently hear from educators in other countries. They contact me with questions about MI. Because they are not so wedded to test scores, they are able to recognize its potential. I was recently interviewed about MI by Ana Luiza Figueiredo for a Brazilian online magazine, Nos( republished at Gardner’s Project Oasis website Project Oasis). The interview appears here: Nos Magazine.

Second, here’s an article about monkeys and equity. No, those are not typo’s; yes, monkeys and equity! You see, it’s also about the Intrapersonal and Interpersonal intelligences. It’s clear that we are not the only primate with feelings that stem from how fairly we feel that we are being treated! What’s Fair?. That issue of perceived fairness is familiar to anyone who has raised a child, taught a class, coached a team, or led a school. Perception is reality.

Third, an article on autism gives some insight into the Interpersonal intelligence. The Interpersonal Intelligence is how well we read and understand others (in contrast with the Intrapersonal intelligence, how well we know ourselves). This NYT article reports on a study that monitored how young children looked at others’ faces – where, specifically, they focused and for how long – and compared responses with their similarity of genes (identical twins versus twins versus unrelated children): Insights Into Autism.

What do you think? What surprised you? With what do you agree or disagree?

This blog post originally appeared as a newsletter for the ASCD Multiple Intelligences Newsletter.


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