What a wonderful few weeks it's been. I started a new job this month teaching visual arts in Spanish to young children in K, 2nd and 4th grades. I am beyond happy with my new responsibilities and for once in my life I actually see myself staying in one place for the long-term. In trying to piece together that exactly makes this job so special I keep turning back to the ideas and words of Daniel Pink, author of Drive. Every word in his book is like a soothing balm, validating what I have always already known about optimal working environments and the human need for autonomy, mastery and purpose.
I have autonomy in the way I teach. I am given comprehensive and systemic support to help me meet my goals, but ultimately trusted and left alone to reach these common goals. I am treated like a professional by the mere fact that I am trusted to know her content and in that way I have a sense of autonomy as well. The school district I work for also drastically loosens the amounts of evaluations teachers get after the first 3 probational years; that alone communicates trust and respect for experience.
On Mastery. Daniel Pink writes about flow. In flow, "people lived so deeply in the moment, and felt so utterly in control, that their sense of time, place, and even self melted away. They were autonomous, of course. But more than that, they were engaged.” I am in the flow all day long at my current work and it feels amazing to set and meet my own personally set goals towards my own idea of mastery. In previous jobs, there were constant systemic battles to undertake that it was next to impossible to experience flow for any amount of time. There would be scheduling issues, frustrating communication gaps, unequal distribution of labor, lack of transparency from Downtown, as well as absurd District decisions that would constantly take up mental realty. I got tired of fighting for common sense and chose a more pleasing road and I could not be more grateful being brave enough to wish for greener pastures.
Purpose. Daniel Pink also describes in his book how people that feel personally invested in their work describe their job environment using the pronoun, 'we', while people who do not see themselves as part of the system describe their work environment using the pronoun 'them'. I feel very deeply now that I have a sense of purpose here. I know I am an essential part of a larger picture and that feels spectacular.
In raising my own two children I hope to encourage them to seek fulfilling, soul replenishing work with people, groups and organizations that dole out plenty of autonomy, allow personally-set goals towards mastery and involve them in a sense of purpose.