Reassure your heart.
Watch the natural sweetness
of toddlers playing.
When I was in college and first studying Human Development, a professor assigned the class the task of going to a playground to watch young children at play. His point was for us, as budding teachers, to see the joy kids have when they are free to simply be in the moment and play. It was so different from what we mostly observed in classrooms.
A couple of years later when I was in graduate school and working as a student teacher in an elementary school, I was provided a similar lesson by my supervising teacher, Guy. It was early in the school year and to that point I had only seen the students inside the classroom. We had a class overnight scheduled for the end of the week, something the students were looking forward to.
One boy, Luis, had been a challenge for me in the classroom. Full of energy, Luis had a hard time sitting still for lessons. He was quick to interrupt and seemed to question everything. In short, my limited teaching toolbox was challenged by Luis.
Guy encouraged me to not judge Luis solely by what I was seeing in the classroom, to keep an eye on him at the overnight. Guy knew that Luis’s greatest strengths, his leadership and athletic skill, were most on display outside. In helping me recognize these strengths in Luis, Guy hoped I would be more accepting of Luis in the classroom.
At the overnight, I spent a lot of time watching Luis. The ease with which he interacted with his fellow students when playing was markedly different than what I saw in the classroom. The lesson that there is a lot more to a student than what a teacher sees inside a school is one I took with me, and shared with the many teachers I’ve mentored in the ensuing 30 years.