Today, we were supposed to have a winter storm. Due to the temperature though, in our area, the winter weather actually turned into just a lot of rain … which meant two indoor recesses. At the first break, I was in the classroom facilitating our Coding Club, and at the start of the second break, I had Kindergarten duty. I knew that for my own self-regulation needs, I had to get out of the classroom and find some quiet and calm. I initially went into the staff room, but with indoor recess, the place was full and noisy, and I knew this wasn’t the environment that I needed at the time. I took my lunch and iPad and ended up in the office. It was actually really quiet, and just one student was sitting on the chairs at the front of the room. I asked him if I could sit down too, and he said, “Sure.” At first, I just looked through some emails on my iPad and happily ate my orange, but then I heard the secretary ask the student a question about why he was sent to the office. As he started to explain, he began to cry. I looked up. When he was done talking, I waited a minute and then looked over at him. I asked if he wanted a Kleenex, and he said, “Yes.” I went to grab one for him. I handed it over, and we started to talk.
- He told me that he’s in Grade 3.
- There are three children in his family, and he’s a really good big brother.
- His favourite subjects are music and gym.
- He runs around a lot in the gym. He just did some running today — 40 laps around and around the gym — which is why he was all sweaty. Running makes him feel calm.
- He said that music makes him feel calm too.
- He loves rock-and-roll music. He even has a karaoke machine at home, and he sings some of his own rock-and-roll music.
- Sometimes he gets to listen to rock-and-roll music at school. He loves listening to music.
- I told him that I like rock-and-roll music too, but I also like country. He said that he doesn’t like country so much.
We had a lovely conversation. It was quiet. It was calm. He was even smiling when the vice principal came out of his office to speak to him. The vice principal was smiling as well, and it was nice.
I don’t know what happened after I left. He went into the office and I went back to class. But I do think that no matter what the outcome, this child was ready to calmly discuss the problem, and that made me happy. Our conversation also reminded me of something very important: we all make mistakes, but there’s good inside of all of us. I think sometimes this is hard to remember, especially when there are problems. Maybe though, it’s conversations like the one that I had today that remind us of the power in connecting with children. What’s happening in their lives? What matters to them? What makes them smile?
When did you last have a conversation like the one that I had today? How did it make you feel? How did it make the child feel? The second nutrition break today didn’t turn out exactly as I planned it, but I couldn’t have felt better (or calmer) when I headed back to class. There’s something to be said about the power of connections. I’m glad that a Grade 3 student reminded me of this.
I had a conversation with several students just like that one today. One grade 3 student was in tears working on a math problem. He was inconsolable and his teacher could not get through to him. I sat with him and rubbed his back as he cried onto his desk top. He eventually sat up and looked at me. I asked him if he wanted to have some quiet time and talk – he did.
We found a quiet room and he was able to share his difficulty. His grandma is sick and she may be dying. She has told him that his education is the most important thing and that he has to do well in school. He was upset because he was struggling with a math question and he felt like he was letting his sick grandmother down. I shared with him that it is great that his grandma values his education, but that likely what she wants from him is for him to try his best and work hard. Struggle and perseverance are part of that process and I told him I was proud of him for continuing to work and his grandmother would be too.
Once he had talked it out he was able to get back to work and he finished everything that was expected of him. When I took him back to class he gave me a hug and said thank you, then he walked over to his teacher and showed her all his hard work. He had a smile on his face and his teacher did too.
Sometimes all it takes in the time to listen, support and reassure.
Thank you Sarah for sharing this wonderful story! You have me in tears tonight. This is a good reminder that sometimes there’s more to a child than what we initially see. Without the opportunity to talk things through, you may have never found out an important back story that eventually helped with the solution. This child was so lucky to have you there today. I hope that more people will share these kinds of stories.