Today proved that reflecting and employing strategies in a difficult situation can pay off. The little girl who was evasive about homework assignments promptly pulled out her assignments. She feigned ignorance with problem solving. She was seeking the answers from me. I am aware of wear this child’s capabilities lay. To give her answers to problems she is capable of answering will enable her. My goal is to fill her was positive self efficacy and safe challenges. Part of the problem is a lack of self-esteem. This child feigns ignorance and inattentiveness due to her innate fear of making errors. My goal this year is to educate her on the fact that we all make mistakes. Mistakes are good if we learn from them.
My fondest wish is that she knows that I accept her unconditionally. Making mistakes with me is a safe zone for her to be in. This child absolutely abhors reading. The capability to read the content is evident. She was looking at her reading material silently while I assisted a student on the other side of the room. Upon my return, I requested that she read her material to me as was assigned. She pretended to be confused. I told her that I knew she was capable of this work and I would accept nothing but effort from her. I told her that I would assist her with hints, but nothing more. I slowly sounded out each letter in each word for her.
We painfully went through the reading process. She slowly connected the letters together in each word. When we were finished I commended her for her effort. I asked her if the work was really painful to perform. She looked up at me smiled and said “Oh Miss Mari” as she gave me a hug. I gave her a high-five, reminded her how smart she was, and told her she could now pack her book bag up for the day. She inquired as to her chances of being student of the month at this point. I informed her that it would take more than one day of effort to achieve that status. I informed her that she would need to continue the effort she expended today to be student of the month.
I am going to dangle this reward like a carrot on a stick for the whole month. If the right to be rewarded is earned, I believe I will choose her next month. If a child makes an effort to change their behavior, the wait for a reward should be relatively short-term. This child is only six. A month will seem like an eternity to her. I will give intermittent rewards of verbal praise, high fives, and special privileges to her for the duration of the month. Being an educator takes patience, flexibility, and most of all a sense of humor. We have the power to open a path of success for children. The wrong move could leave the child with poor self-esteem, and a sense of indifference that will be present into adult hood.
I tell myself I can’t make the right decisions constantly. I am not immune to having an off day in the classroom anymore than the children are. We are all human beings who err, no matter what our age. I find myself stepping back occasionally when the children’s behavior airs on the ornery side. I remind myself that I am their guide. The major observation I find myself constantly reminding myself about is the fact that these are not mini adults. They do not have the adult capability to verbalize their emotions. Thus, they act out instead. I have made a pact to myself to continue to hone my skills in terms of looking for precipitance.