This article is dedicated to my Marigolds: Rika Kroon (my first Marigold), Charmaine Cowell, Lindsay Wesner, Sihle Maseko, Alicia Brink, Barbara Brand, Katy Ockers, and Marchelle Fester.
I will never forget my first year of teaching. After 15 years in the corporate universe, I decided to become a teacher at 38, a “late-bloomer”. I started teaching at a school, which later, as I reflect, was a great “learning” school. But oh my word, it was tough! My first year was filled with self-doubt, dread, tears, hard work, more tears, school politics, self-doubt. Many times I sat in my car and thought, today is the day I quit. And I did, by 6th month, I couldn’t do it anymore and handed in my resignation. My only salvation was my Marigold.
My Marigold taught me as a learner and then transformed to become my BFF teacher friend. During my first year, she coached and mentored me, held my hand, advised, supported, and loved me. She never judged; she corrected and explained. Without her, my first year of teaching would have been my last.
One of the articles she gave me to read was Jennifer Gonzalez’s Find Your Marigold: The One Essential Rule for New Teachers.
“Marigolds exist in our schools as well – encouraging, supporting, and nurturing growing teachers on their way to maturity. If you can find at least one Marigold in your school and stay close to them, you will grow. Find more than one, and you will positively thrive.”
Marigolds help you through those tricky school politics issues, toxic situations and make you feel calmer and more decisive. But beware the walnut trees! I am sure you would spot these trees anywhere. Here is how to identify them: “Their take on the kids is negative. Their take on the administration is negative. Being around them makes you feel insecure, discouraged, overwhelmed, or embarrassed.”
I found one Marigold (and many walnut trees) at each school I worked at, and I have kept in contact with my Marigolds. But I have learners extend my hunt for Marigolds to outside the school environment. I grew and broadened my learning network (PLN). When I developed my PLN, I found marigolds who helped and nurtured my professional career. They have become friends, and I am indebted to them.
The marigold effect replicates. Through their support, I became a marigold to them and others. In this way, the circle grows. Let me be clear that this “kumbayah” moment, as some might see it, is not toxic positivity, where are things are bright and beautiful. As for marigolds, you also have disagreements and opposite views, which makes the relationship authentic. Yes, you can be vulnerable and share your self-doubt, and you are willing to recipocate, assist, and help them reach their full potential.
I urge you to read the article and identify your marigolds and the different types of walnut trees with a critical lens. Think about how they make you feel. Introspect and ask yourself which one are you? Lastly, remember to thank your Marigolds because we all grow with kind words and recognition.
Ilonka Poole is a freelance design architect who has a passion for igniting the a-ha moment with learners and teachers. She believes fiercely in collaboration and runs a PLN group for teachers. Ilonka is closely associated with NBConsult and a certified Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.