Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Classroom Management Tip #4304. Compassion.

Last week, we started the auditions for the spring musical revue. The performance isn't until May, but we plan ahead around here! The children had all signed up for their time slots. When they walked into the room, they saw the list of students and the time of their audition on the board. I could see and feel the energy and excitement in the room...especially in the 6th grade children. It was their first time at this rodeo. To audition in front of 60 of your peers is a big deal! So, I called up the third little child for her 60 second audition. We will call her Sarah. She obediently came to up to me to hand me her music when I noticed that Sarah's eyes were filled with tears. She was so nervous that she was crying. She was facing me and not the students, so I looked her in the eye, and I started talking to her. I asked her what she was singing. She said "Part of your World" from Little Mermaid. I said, "Perfect! I know it! If you get nervous and forget something, look at me, and I will help you through it. You'll be fine! It'll be over in 60 seconds." By this time, Sarah's classmates knew something was up, and they were watching my every move. They were observing how I dealt with her and how she responded to me. They were seeing if I cared. So, I turned the music on. Her face had already begun to dry, but her eyes were still red. She started singing, and she was amazing! I got goose bumps watching her dig deep and make it happen. I was so moved by Sarah's ability to fight through her fears and tears and allow her herself to do well in her audition that I felt my tears well up. That is why I teach.

 Was my audition schedule structured to the maximum? Yes. Had I done my best to prepare the students for success by giving information to them that would allow them to do their best? Yes. Did I create a positive work environment for them? Yes. All the rules and guidelines were in place. All of that stuff matters tremendously, of course. We learn how important those things are in college.  

Over time, the best teachers who remain in the field refine and evaluate their work in those areas, and they get better at stating the rules and guidelines clearly and, most important, they learn to implement them effectively with the age group with whom they work best. 

 However, had I not handled that scared little girl with care and love in front of her peers, no amount of rules, signed contracts and syllabi, parent contact, moving of seats and tongue lashings would matter one bit. We hear it all the time...but they don't care how much we know until they know how much we care. It's especially important for our Middle School children. ...and Sarah taught me way more than I taught her today. 

 Have a great week.

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