Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Surface Upon Which To Reflect

"Teacher Tom," pointing, "She tried to put sand on my brother's back." 

One of the things that makes our summer program different than the regular school year is that the children don't all know one another, so there's a lot of "she" and "he" that "that kid over there." Another thing that makes it different is that many of the kids have had other teachers, other schools, with other philosophies or un-philosophies on how to deal with conflict. My first thought was that this was tattling, a sign that a child comes from a place where the grown-ups solve problems for children.

I answered like a blank slate, "You told me that."

He answered, "I did," then paused as if waiting for me to say something else. When I just stood nodding, he said, "I told her to stop, but she didn't."

I looked from him to the girl he was complaining about. She was busy digging in the sand, but also listening to us. I said, "She's not putting sand on your brother now. Now she's digging sand. She stopped."

"She didn't stop, Teacher Tom, so we walked away."

"Then she stopped."

"Then she stopped."

"You wanted her to stop putting sand on your brother. You told her to stop and she didn't, so you both walked away."


"You taught your little brother what to do if someone is putting sand on him."

"I did."

"That's what I would have done." I then asked the girl, who was still listening, "Is that what happened?" and she answered, "Yes, they didn't like sand on them."

"And you stopped putting sand on them."

"Yes. They didn't like it."

I said, "That's what I would have done."

This wasn't the first rodeo for either of these kids, as made clear by their words and attitudes. They've had good teachers. This five and four year old have solved their own problems before. This wasn't tattling. They were just using me like a mirror, a surface upon which to reflect.

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1 comment:

Amanda said...

Reading your dialogues helps me grow as a teacher. I try to "be a surface upon which to reflect" but as the days get hot in our 100 year old elementary school I sometimes forget or rush to solve problems out of exasperation. Reading this helped. Thanks!