Friday, March 11, 2016

Help That One Child Standing Right in Front of You



          I am participating in the  
          March Slice of Life Challenge
          Each day we post our thoughts. 
          Thank you, Two Writing Teachers

          Day 11 - Help That One Child   
          Standing Right in Front of You

Years ago when I was a principal, a young teacher came to me overwhelmed.
He was obviously shaken. He was an exceptional teacher who needed some support.
He was feeling helpless and unable to meet the needs of all the children in his care.
My first thought was that it was something we all face as young teachers.
But then, as I considered his situation, I realized that we often feel incapable of doing it all.

Our conversation went something like this.

"How can I help all these kids?
 What am I doing wrong?
 There's not enough time to do it all.
 How am I going to help ALL these kids?"

I sensed his frustration and understood his state of mind. 
As a teacher, there were days upon days, I felt like there wasn't enough of me to spread around.
Some days I went home completely spent. Empty.
I knew exactly how he felt. 
What I admired was that he wasn't giving up.
His heart drove his practice. 
He was there to help children and that's exactly what he was going to do.
But like all of us, he was feeling like he couldn't really reach any of them.

I calmed him down as best I could.
Praised him for all that he was doing.
Let him know how much I admired his love for children.

And I told him,
"Focus on that child right in front of you.
For a moment just stop.
Think about that child and what he needs.
Help that one child who is standing right in front of you.
He will teach you, You just need to
pause and listen, 
observe and encourage, 
scaffold and release.
What you learn from him will help when you work with others.
And one child at a time, you will help them all."

He walked away ready for the challenge and I hoped I had done some good.
I hoped I had reassured him that what he was feeling something we all felt sometimes.
I hope I left him with some advice that would calm his fears and frustration.
Later that day he thanked me. He said that our conversation had helped.

It was several years later, when he reminded me of our conversation and how much it meant to him.

He was able to continue helping all his children 
by helping the one child standing right in front of him.

4 comments:

Tara Smith said...

I loved this:
"Focus on that child right in front of you.
For a moment just stop.
Think about that child and what he needs.
Help that one child who is standing right in front of you.

Nicole said...

That is awesome advice! Even years into teaching focusing on the child in front of us will make the overwhelming moments more manageable. I will take this with me to school on Monday. Thank you!

Karen said...

What amazing advice, Karen! Focus on the child right in front of you - a perfect statement. I also loved that you knew he "taught from the heart" - I often think that is the one thing that can't be taught. His heart was the reason he came to you, and what sage advice you gave.
How lucky I am to have worked with you and benefited from your wisdom as well.

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