Let me assure you that she wants to get back to work, but the doctor has ruled it out. During her last visit with the orthopedic surgeon, she was informed that he was not happy with the manner in which the bone was healing. He prescribed more exercises and ordered therapy to begin. With a bit of luck she might be able to return to work in early December. She is making progress, but I am fairly certain things are not moving along as quickly as she would like.
During her latest visit with the orthopedic surgeon, he eased up a bit on the restrictions. Jackie can now drive occasionally and lift up to 10 pounds with her "bad" arm. The only bright light on the horizon is that the injury affected her left arm and she is right-handed.
I also think that she is also angry with the fact that there is no cast for anyone to sign, and there is no bruise to show people. There is nothing but pain in her daily existence now. She is not happy that she has lost control of her daily life. This school year is not playing out the way that she hoped it would.
Now you and I may see this as a temporary setback. This too will pass. That is easy for us to say, because our lives have not been altered. We are not walking in her moccasins at this point. Here is where the lesson begins.
We need to understand about how a variety of situations affect the people who are around us in our lives. We need to be responsive to their needs and concerned with their problems. We need to reach out to them in an attempt to help them deal with life.
It was my daughter Katie who suggested the topic for this week's visit with you. She too is quite familiar with her mom's take-charge approach to life. However, she suggested that the uncertainty that Jackie is feeling right now could be extrapolated outward to the world of firefighting. Katie asked me to relate to you the issue of uncertainty as it pertains to the feeling that newcomers to the fire service may experience when they encounter their new environment.
In my case, I have been going to fires for so long that it is somewhat difficult to recall how I felt when I started going to blazes. However, it is critical for those of us who have the experience to reach out to the new people.
I alluded to this in last week's commentary when I spoke of the need for leaders and others to make people feel comfortable when they enter the doors of our fire stations. We have to remember that what is familiar for us is new and unique for the novice firefighter.
Katie has made reference to this issue a number of times over the past few years. She suggested that many of the fine folks who trained her early in her career skipped over certain things, thinking that her and her classmates knew more than they actually did. She made a real impression on me with this assessment. She suggested that instructors should make an effort to learn more about their students.
Over the past few years, I have attempted to alter my teaching techniques, based upon Katie's premise. This has been done in an attempt to understand the level of understanding that my students possess. We are meeting each other in a unique way. I asked questions to help me arrive at an awareness of what they may or may not know about the topic in question.
I try to assess what they know, and what they might not know. I do this so that I can begin to teach them in a way that allows them to pick up the topic and carry it towards a successful learning experience. It is my task to meet them on a common ground of mutual understanding.
This is an element basic to the delivery of adult education. It is a concept that many instructors fail to appreciate. Each student arrives with a given base level of knowledge. If you teach the topic at too low a level, they will quickly become bored and are turned off. If you teach at too high a level, the student never has a chance to tune in and carry on a two-way educational interaction.
Katie also reminded me of the importance of sharing our experience with the new people at the scene of emergencies. These new folks may hold back if you do not encourage them to participate. They might also forward rush toward the emergency and be injured if you do not keep an eye on them and share what you know.