Teaching is hard. There are times when I find myself in the midst of these small moments that can only be described as chaotic. Typically, chaos waits to sink it's teeth in during what teachers call "transitions." Allow me to set the scene.
A class full of 23 nine and ten year olds have just pulled up from the surface of their books. Books which they have been engrossed in for the past 25ish minutes. Disclaimer: most of them were engrossed, others were blowing their noses or staring off into the abyss, but that is a topic we will touch on some other time. I gently say "alright, let's find a spot to stop. Reading materials away, grab everything you need for writing and meet me on the carpet."
Chaos sees his in. Here he comes.
It only takes one person who does not hear anything I just said. One person who heard "I'm starting in about four minutes so you have time to do whatever you would like." Realistically, what they actually heard probably sounds more like wah wah wah wah wah a la Charlie Brown's teacher. Then, the inevitable happens. Another adult walks into the room to tell or show me something. Seeing the new adult in the room will remind a child that they have a story to tell me. That will then remind another child that they have a story too. All of a sudden, no one remembers the bathroom signal and everyone has to go. If you're lucky, at this precise moment a dramatic indoor or outdoor recess announcement will come crackling over the intercom. This will be met with either an enthusiastic YEAHHH and fist pumps or a devastating NOOOO.
Chaos has arrived and he is trying to steal my cool.
At this moment, a child who really does need me or really does need directions clarified because I gave multiple steps instead of one, will approach me. This is it, this is the moment that will make or break the rest of the day for this child and it's all in my hands. I can take out the stress of the current situation or I can take a deep breath and help this little person who is hoping only to be met with a response that is not dehumanizing.
When my kids ask me questions I like to ask them a question in return. One that I think will help them get to a solution without me laying out the full plan for them. This does not work with all kids. For some kids, it can cause them to tear up as soon as I pose my first question. This year, I have one sweet little girl that is extremely sensitive. I had to learn that the hard way when I used my reverse questioning technique on her the first time. This student always needs the most support in the moments that are heavy with chaos.
Today, she gave me this note and it helped me see that she appreciates the patience I show her. All it takes is a deep breath in those moments that matter the most. If she can try her best then so can I.