Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lessons learned from the classroom


The pictures that won't be used for the family Christmas card! Allowing the boys a few "goof ball" shots helped them get out the wiggles for the regular pictures.

It was my first official day volunteering in Cooper's kindergarten class.  I walked into the room shortly after the welcome bell chimed and gazed at the scene.  Almost two dozen five-year-olds milled around the classroom placing backpacks into cubbies and folders onto desktops.  Despite the hustle and bustle, I immediately noticed the peacefulness and efficiency of the process.

As the students selected their little chairs, the room fell into a hush.  The children turned their attention to the front of the room.  Their petite teacher waltzed up to the chalkboard and then spoke to the group in a muted tone that oozed with sugary sweetness.

I took the entire scene in with great appreciation and awe.  Who is this teacher?  Is she some sort of "kid whisperer" that can tame even the most spirited five-year-old into a compliant member of the classroom?  I don't think she's a "kid whisperer" as much as a teacher and teachers know a thing or two about how to whip a group of kiddos into shape.

As I sat in the back of the classroom purging her supply closet, I continued to gawk at the scene.  I thought about my own challenges managing four boys and wondered what lessons I could learn from this teacher to apply to my own home.

I determined these are the teacher's "secrets" that can be applied to my mothering:

Predictability and routine are king

From the minute the kids entered the classroom, they knew how the day would unfold.  They knew where they sat, what time lunch started, when recess began.  Fussing was nonexistent when things are expected and a schedule is engrained.

She treated them like little adults

Even though they are pint size little people, she recognized their potential.  They picked up their own trash and carried their own backpacks.  They liked being treated as "big boys and girls" and rose to the occasion.

But, she still understood that they are kids

She knew five-year-olds can't sit forever.   They needed recess.  They needed reminders (wash your hands, Cooper!).  They made messes.  She expected it and didn't make a bigger deal about it than it merited.

She never yelled and frequently encouraged

I never heard this woman raise her voice a decibel over the volume  used in a library.  She didn't scream at the children or throw her hands up in disgust.  Instead, she told them instructions once politely and expected compliance.  I know sometimes they tested her and she had a behavior (color) system in place.  But I heard her heap praises on the children more than criticisms.

I walked out of Cooper's school inspired and eager to apply all the lessons I learned in his classroom.










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