As adults, we know that we are not perfect. Mistakes are part of the human condition. Children, however are frequently surprised to learn that their teachers can make mistakes. Here’s the story of one of my recent mistakes.
On a recent field trip which involved a visit to the aquarium and the beach, my stress level was high. There were several things that added to my stress and I will not list them off here or make excuses but just know that as a human teacher, I was having one of those days.
The beach portion of the trip was at the end of the day. Children had about 20 minutes to play at the beach, maybe a little more, and then they were going home. One child decided to throw rocks into the water. Well, as you may have witnessed, the aim of a three year old is not yet perfected so throwing rocks into the water was not the safest thing I could imagine us doing and I told the child to find another idea for the rocks. I tried to show how rocks could be put into rows or designs but explained that they were too hard and not safe to throw with so many friends around.
Sadly, several children wanted to throw rocks into the water and I spent the next 20 minutes or so redirecting children from throwing rocks into the water. They were determined though and kept trying to come back to the activity. Agh! Sooooo frustrating!
I went home, reflected on the beach time and felt really unhappy with the way things went. And then it dawned on me. I just needed to practice acceptance. These children wanted to practice throwing rocks into the ocean. As their teacher, I needed to find a safe way for them to do this activity.
I had another chance to get it right on our next beach outing. I had thought ahead and knew what I would do. When a child wanted to throw rocks into the ocean, I helped them form a line and each child could get a turn to throw one rock into the water once they got to the front of the line. And it worked! Add to that, they now had the opportunity to practice patience as they waited for a turn to do the activity. Yay! A win-win situation.
It makes me wonder, how often if my life, when stress takes over do I fail to see the solutions? And it reminds me to take a few deep breaths before tackling a problem.
Managing my own stress has to remain a high priority. And the great part of the whole thing is, when I learn to manage my stress, I can also model that for the children I teach.
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