Back in December, I selected my “one word goal” for this year, and never did I realize that I would be thinking about this word so much during my new position this summer. As part of my position at Camp Power, I’m the person that the teachers contact if they need support with a student or a group of students. During my teaching position from September-June, I’m the one that may contact another teacher, an EA, or the principal for help, and now I’m the one being called. And with this change, comes a change in “perspective.”
I don’t think that I ever really thought much about all of the decisions that a person needs to make when supporting a child in need. When I’ve called for help before, it’s when that help arrived that I’ve often walked away from that problem and went to support other children. I’ve usually followed up later to find out what happened and what I should do the next time, but I never really wondered a lot about what happened at that time of initial contact. Now I was that point of contact, and the only thing that I could do was think about how to turn things around.
- How might I approach the child?
- What kind of tone should I use?
- What caused the problem? (I forever had Stuart Shanker‘s questions of, “Why this child?” and “Why now?” floating through my head.)
- What might help this child calm down?
- How can I support this child outside of the classroom, and how can I get this child back into the classroom?
- How can children support each other?
- When might I need some more help (there is an administrator on site) and when might I ask for it?
- What do we need to do to reduce the chance of this problem reoccurring today or on other days?
I worked hard at figuring out when to talk, when to listen, and when to just sit. I tried to make connections with students, while also helping students form important connections with their classroom teachers. Children need to be in their classes, and I want them to feel safe and supported by me, but also have these same feelings in their rooms.
During our training session on Tuesday, I asked all staff members to share one of their strengths and an area that they wanted to learn more about. I did the same. I said that one of my strengths is my ability to connect with kids. Throughout the week, I got to test this strength of mine, as I connected with children and helped them through more challenging times. And as I did so, I began to view problems differently. I thought about the times that I’ve called for help in the past, and I considered what I might do from now on.
- When might a child need to leave the classroom?
- When is a child ready to return?
- How does my tone impact on the tone and the actions of children?
- What kind of space can I create in the classroom to support children with various needs, and what needs to be a part of this space?
Over this past week, I’ve seen the benefit of …
- sensory play (particularly clay and play dough) for children of all ages.
- independent work spaces.
- quiet spaces, even in the middle of busy classrooms.
- technology for some and a break from it for others.
- predictable, consistent routines.
- knowing when a lesson (or activity) does not work for one child, and providing something else that might.
I’ve also seen how some children that have struggled — maybe even for years — can meet with success, and just how incredible this success can be. “Success” can be seen in many forms.
- Maybe it’s a change in attitude towards reading, writing, or math.
- Maybe it’s a willingness to attempt something that he/she has not attempted before.
- And maybe it’s a child that starts and ends the day happy … and a parent that hears something different — something positive — about his/her child that he/she has not heard in the past.
This week, I’ve witnessed all three of these successes, and I’m eager to witness many more in the coming weeks. I can’t help but think about this important message that Stuart Shanker shares so frequently.
— The MEHRIT Centre (@Self_Reg) July 15, 2017
I think this new camp experience has helped me see many children differently, and I’m eager to see how this new summer perspective impacts on my perspective in the upcoming school year. What might this mean for me and for kids?