Sunday, May 10, 2009

nine months

Sometimes my learning curve as a teacher is painfully slow. But I'm always greatful when the answers I'm looking for come to me in the end.

From the day I started working at our school, I've asked the question what my role is as a subject teacher. In most situations the answer would be to teach a set of skills, in my case a language. It turns out though that it is so much more than that.

As a teacher of a small number of children in each grade, my primary goal is to support their class teacher. Yes, I teach a language. But in my classroom I have the opportunity to be another caring adult in the often difficult world of adolescence. Frequently, especially in seventh grade, it takes the children a really long time to settle into our routine. Like nine months.

This is how long it has taken me to finally understand what one of my most challenging students needs. On the surface he is a gregarious kid with not much of a care in life, always disrupting with jokes and laughter. A child who truly enjoys derailing lessons and preventing others from learning. All year I have wondered what is behind this behavior, I've taken this student into my meditative life, talked to other teachers, pondered. For nine months he remained a puzzle to be solved. Finally, last week the lightbulb went on. Since the connection to children does not occur in a linear fashion, I can't quite put my finger on what suddenly gave me insight into this child. But last Thursday I woke up knowing exactly what I needed to do to help him. For the first time I walked into the classroom being completely sure what I needed to say and in what tone so he could hear me. And once I spoke with him, for the first time this year I looked at a child who did not protest and had a glimpse of relief in his eyes.

It took nine months to get there, but it was totally worth the wait. I don't know where these insights will lead, but I am so greatful to be working with children in this way. Let's hear it for Waldorf Education and it's incredible wisdom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That you saw "relief" in his eyes really struck me. Children just want to be really seen and heard (as do we all) and also to have those loving limits set for them.