Sometimes I realize how quickly things can change. Everything is going well, until it’s not. Before I took the Foundations 1 Course, I remember having many conversations with educators and administrators about students in my classroom. I often made comments, such as,
- “I never saw that response coming.”
- “He/she changed so quickly.”
- “Who could have predicted that punch (or substitute “punch” with hit, kick, pinch, bite, etc.)?”
I used to truly believe that there was nothing I could have done differently to change the outcome. The child just reacted in this way. In retrospect though, I wonder if a change in response, a change in tone, or even just a change in idea, would have changed the outcome.
I think back now to this experience from a recent Friday morning.
Mya found this hula hoop in the forest. She said, “I’m really good at hula hooping.” She showed off her skills, and some children from the three Kindergarten classes were intrigued and wanted a turn. As they were taking turns, one child started to get frustrated with the turn taking. @paulacrockett noticed and was about to intervene when Milla saw and said, “I’m getting tired. I want to go roll down the hill. Do you want to go with me?” That little redirection worked, and he did. I think that the smiles, squeals of delight, and Milla’s words that, “Today is the best day ever!,” says it all. Sometimes, as educators, we think we need to solve all the problems. It’s amazing how supportive kids can be, and just how many problems they can solve with something as simple as a new suggestion. ❤️❤️❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram
There was the potential here for things to go badly for any number of reasons.
- Turn-taking is hard.
- Hula-hooping was a challenge, and when meeting with less success, some kids wanted to keep trying again and again.
- The line-up kept growing so there was more waiting to do.
- When a child is dysregulated, trying to address the problem and/or offer another choice is not always well-received.
But sometimes, a small suggestion from a friend can make all the difference. For kids speak in different ways than adults do to other kids. They don’t tend to get hung up on long explanations, and often seem genuine in the suggestions they share. This is exactly what happened that Friday, and in minutes, everything changed for the better.
- The child that was becoming frustrated moved away from the hula-hooping, and onto a less challenging activity in a much smaller group.
- The opportunity to roll, laugh, and have fun with some best friends made a difference.
- The change was never seen as a punishment, but instead, as a preferable option.
That Friday, this little girl changed another child’s trajectory. I don’t know if she realized it at the time, or if she just did what comes so very naturally to her. She made a difference though, and a situation that could have ended in tears and confrontation, ended in squeals of laughter and delight. This makes my heart happy, and reminds me that it is possible to see the stress, respond to it, deescalate the problem, and change the outcome. If a six-year-old can do this, so can an adult.
— Dr. Jennifer Flinn (@MrsJFlinn) November 3, 2016
Going forward, as I watch our children, I may be doing so through a slightly modified, possibly clearer lens. What might I have missed in the past, and how can I respond differently now? Could a little help from a student be what ultimately makes the biggest difference? Once again, I’m reminded of Stuart Shanker’s profound words that are worth a little extra thought at any time of the year.
Aviva Dunsiger has been the Portal Plus Moderator for over a year now and completed the Foundations 1 Certification Program. She has taught everything from Kindergarten to Grade 6 and enjoys blogging about her teaching and learning experiences. She blogs professionally on her blog, Living Avivaloca. Aviva is excited to contribute a monthly post on The MEHRIT Centre Blog.