Hello! Stay tuned for Erin’s thoughts coming soon. In the meantime, here is the follow up to my first post on trust in the kindergarten classroom.
After school one day last week, a one-word text message from a dear friend sent me into a spiral of reflection. She had just read a series of messages that I sent her regarding a tough day and responded back with just one word: perspective.
Unfortunately, on that particular day, I had lost mine.
In the frenzied pace of our teaching days, we rarely (ok, NEVER) get time to sit back, kick up our heels, and reflect on our teaching practices in real time, so in my defense, I gave myself permission to wallow a bit in my loss of perspective before I jumped back on track. A good wallow never hurts anyone–just ask a five year-old!
Just as I typed the words frenzied pace above, I remembered another text exchange with other dear friends a few weeks ago. In that exchange, they inquired: “Do we need to have all this focus on MINDFULNESS for children because the pacing of their days is madness?”
And thank God for dear friends and text messages, by the way!
Perspective holds a lot of weight in teaching. It can have big implications in how we react and respond to teachable moments.
Wait. This post is supposed to be about trust. That’s what you came to read about– and so here I go…
Trust and perspective. Two hefty words. (Save the eyerolls with that poor tie-in!)
As I think about trust, and how it permeates through my teaching practices, I’ve begun a list of questions that I’m reflecting on, while trying to maintain a perspective that aligns with the cognitive and emotional development of kindergarteners:
- Can I trust that in each moment of the day, students are learning? When one child has the only purple marker in the world and another child is in need of said marker, can I trust they are learning valuable lessons about communicating, negotiating and sharing (even if a tantrum precedes said learning)? Am I honoring their perspective- that in that particular moment- this marker dilemma is EVERYTHING in their whole world? Do I trust them to figure it out without me stepping in? Would some coaching and reflection after they give it a go on their own be of more value to them than me quickly stepping in to halt their process?
- Am I remembering to keep perspective when a child’s marks on a blank page appear to be scribbles in an adult’s eye, but to him are a masterpiece? Am I trusting that children are right where they need to be in their development and with some acknowledgement, conferring, and coaching, will continue to grow?
- Do I trust myself and the relationships I have formed with my students to know their needs better than a curriculum manual that has 1,432 pages*? Can I continue pushing myself to keep perspective… and trust my professional judgement on when to go slow and when to pick up the pace?
- What does it really mean to be mindful in the classroom? Can I shift my perspective to being more mindful myself before jumping in to teach mindfulness lessons to kindergarteners? And really, what does it say about our world that we need to teach mindfulness to children when they are four and five years old? Is that the world I want children to live in? What is my responsibility in creating a world that, in a seven hour school day, is a safe place for a kid to be a kid and learn and grow at a pace that is, well, mindful of the fact that they are four and five years old? Isn’t that where I should begin?
One of my beloved mentors, Kristi Mraz, challenges us all to think, “If the world became your classroom, would you want to live there?” Isn’t that amazing to think about? And isn’t it amazing to think how trust must be a live culture that is ever growing and evolving throughout each and every school day?
Of course, these are all rhetorical questions–and I believe they are valuable for me to consider over and over again.
I welcome your thoughts and questions (rhetorical or not) below!
*your curriculum manual(s) may have more or less pages…hopefully less!