Thursday, September 17, 2009

I’ll Know What To Do

Yesterday morning I posted about how parents are the real reason our school works so well.

Yesterday afternoon Woodland Park parent and fellow blogger (who I’ve mentioned before both here and here) posted about why we so readily do the work – the kids. It was her daughter Alex’s first day of school and Maya wrote about it on her blog Crumbs and Quibbles, complete with several cute photos that show a focused little girl getting right to work.

It’s fun to read about our school from a parent’s perspective.

Maya’s family and I have been part of one another’s lives for the past 5 years. As I played with bold, confident Alex yesterday, I couldn’t help recalling her older sister Sammy, who as a 2-year-old would flee whenever I entered the part of the classroom in which she played. She didn’t make a big deal about it, but when I got too physically close, she’d just put down whatever she was doing and go somewhere else. Maya told me that Sammy spoke highly of me at home, even insisting that a poster of Peter Tosh was, in fact, Teacher Tom. I don’t think I frightened her as much as overwhelmed her with my proximity – a circumstance that might work fine for a TV personality, but not for a teacher.

I eventually adopted a strategy of positioning myself as near to Sammy as she would allow, then making sure to talk to the children around me loudly enough that she could hear. She kept track of me from the corners of her eyes, so I knew she was paying attention. Over a period of weeks I got closer and closer until one day we were sharing the play dough table. This was exciting! I didn’t talk at all, but rather focused on silently mashing the ball of dough in my hands. I felt a little like I was sneaking up on a robin; one false move and she’d fly away. I edged ever nearer. Before long we were side-by-side working our dough.

That’s when I risked speaking. As softly and matter-of-factly as I could I said, “I want to make a diamond shape.” Without looking at me, Sammy picked up the diamond-shaped cookie cutter at her elbow and handed it to me. Moments later she was gone, but that was the beginning of the thaw, and over the course of the next 3 years we became great friends.

On Tuesday, I met 2-year-old Sasha on her first day of school. Whenever I entered the area in which she played, she would put down what she was doing and retreat to her mom. If it continues next week, thanks to Sammy, I’ll know what to do.

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Maya Catching Butterflies said...

This demonstrates how different Sammy and Alex are. Alex has no problem interacting with adults and saying what's on her mind. Sammy is still one to stand aside, watch, evaluate the situation and then jump in. I'm so glad that you are conscious of these difference between the children and are able to adjust your teaching style to accommodate the various temperaments. In the end, everyone leaves school on a happy note.

Jon said...

Yesterday I reminded Sammy that she thought the poster of Peter Tosh was Tom. After looking at the poster again she said "that does look like Teacher Tom, he just doesn't have dreadlocks"

Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

Cute story!