In Grade 4, at Beaumaris (Beauie) Primary School, my classroom teacher was Miss Cavanagh. I loved Miss Cavanagh. I wasn’t alone. My brother James had her 3 years later. He loved her too. We all did. Why?
Miss Cavanagh made me feel like I was special. Someone that mattered. That my opinion counted. She saw me.
Each morning I came to class she would always look up and at me and say; “Good morning Georgia. How was your night?”. No teacher ever asked me that. Except for her.
When I was struggling to understand something, she would come to me quietly and ask where she could help. If I was visibly upset about something she would notice and come and ask me why I was upset.
She met one of my greatest needs. To be seen and heard. To be noticed by another. This is not just my need, but one we all have. Many of you will be aware of ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’, a motivational theory in understanding our human needs, created in 1943 by Abraham Maslow.
Maslow wanted to understand what motivates people. He found that people have a priority of needs and desires, when it comes to ‘doing life’. Once we feel the essential needs are met, we then move to the next.
He found that at our core, our first needs are about physiological and psychological safety. Basically, we all need to have our essential requirements for survival met first, i.e. air, food, water, sleep, clothing and shelter, before we can move on to the next need.
Secondly, we need safety and security in our personal and financial life, our health and to feel safe and secure from harm – both physical and psychological.
Then comes our need to belong.
One way to make people feel needed and wanted is to acknowledge them.
Years later, whenever I’ve met up with other Beauie Primary classmates, we would talk about Miss Cavanagh and how good she made us feel. It became clear that she did the same with others too.
Teachers tell me that in primary school, Grade 4 can be the toughest class to teach. The ages of 9 to 10 can be known as the ‘feral’ years. Kids hormones and testosterone are on a surge as puberty begins.
For many teachers and students this is not an enjoyable year. But for me and many others who were in Miss Cavanagh’s class, this was not the case. It was our best year, where we had good grades, great attitudes and wanted to come to school (mostly). So, I’m going to draw the link that it was because she really noticed us. She really cared about us. She showed that she cared by asking questions, listening, displaying great empathy and being interested.
So with that in mind, I’d like to send you all much love this holiday season. To those of you who I have had the pleasure to meet and work with, to those who have followed my blogs and also to those who have just been gorgeous friends and supporters – near and far.
For many it’s a challenging time and for others it’s full of pots of gold. Whilst Christmas feels a lot like presents and time off, the biggest gift you can make is free and simple. To make those around you feel seen and heard. Find your inner Miss Cavanagh and remember, the ones that are the hardest to love, often need it the most.
Happy holiday season to all.