This is not a story about one of my students. It is not even a story about a child in the same grade that I teach. It is a story though about a child that continues to change me.
I met this student at recess one day. There was a problem in the lunchroom. My suggestion to have him come and walk with me, seemed to make a difference, and by the time that we both got back to class, he was a lot calmer.
- Maybe the physical movement helped.
- Maybe the change of scenery helped.
- Maybe connecting with someone who understood him, helped.
This child went from screaming and crying to smiling, and there was something about that smile that stuck with me. I think it was knowing that my tone and actions helped result in a positive change. It was the realization, that as educators, we can make a difference.
This was back in September. This child and I have interacted many times since then. Over the past seven months, he has reminded me of numerous things.
- That tears are a stress response.
- That those that hit do not always intend to hurt.
- That we would “use our words” if we had the words to use.
- That sometimes, when we feel the most angry and upset, the offer of a hug is the best offer of all.
- That we all need to feel loved and know that there are people out there that love us.
- That we have to seek to understand a child’s perspective, even when that perspective may be hard to understand.
- That fewer words, a quieter tone, and getting down low, almost always make a big difference.
- That our end goal is not to punish.
As I continue to learn more about self-regulation, I will admit that I make many mistakes. I often react as I shouldn’t or say things that I wish I didn’t. But this child is the exception: with him, I remember what I need to do. I remember what he needs. And I see the power of Shanker‘s work in action: reminding me that this is what I have to remember when working with every other child.
I am far from perfect, but this child continues to change me, and for that, I’m grateful. Who is your “child?” May we all have stories to share of those students that help make us better.