During a local business networking meeting, my friend John shared the following:
"I actually have a wife, but at the moment I am not wearing my wedding ring because I took it off while playing guitar. I'm a bit self-conscious about it because someone made a comment about it in the past, so now I feel the need to explain why I'm not wearing it."
A casual remark made in passing got stuck in my friend's memory, and he ended up discussing it at a networking event, where no one would likely notice his missing ring. This incident made me ponder upon the fact that we cannot determine what sticks with other people.
In 2006, I was 22, and I was responsible for eighteen 4-year-olds. It was my first time being the H.B.I.C. I quickly learned the "right way" and "wrong way" to get the children to listen and stop crying!
It brings me joy to reconnect with those children throughout the years. I keep in contact with about 5 of them regularly. There were so many fun days shared together.
I remember walking my class to a local coffee shop one morning and buying everyone hot cocoa just because!
I remember my co-teacher would read a chapter of "The Magic Tree House" to the children each day before lunch.
During that year, I received the sweetest gift from one of my students named Luke. It was accompanied by another gift that he was saving because he wanted me to go out to dinner "somewhere fancy."
As an adult, I also recall learning numerous valuable life lessons.
Flash forward eight years, and I taught at a new school with sixteen 4-year-olds.
During the summer, the school invited teen volunteers into the program to help and earn hours!
I was thrilled to have two of my past students, Maya and Maddie, join in my classroom. It was magic. They volunteered with me for three summers in a row.
The new class always thought it was funny to learn that I was their preschool teacher, and now they are in high school! I always loved having them inside my classroom because they are like family.
It wasn't until one day that one of the teens, Maya, shared a shocking memory she had. It is not a terrible memory, just one that reminded me of how far I had come with my years of intentional learning and practice.
(Before her memory, I want to offer a bit of backstory here: If you have ever been in a classroom by yourself trying to get eighteen children to rest, you can appreciate anxiety can run high during those times. Nap time ratio drops to half so you can be alone with more children "because they are asleep." All I'm trying to say is that it is a HIGH-STRESS time for most. Nap is not very fun.)
So, Maya shared that her memory was during nap time, and it was a classmate's birthday. I told Maya that if she didn't take a nap, she couldn't have a cupcake. So she pretended to sleep the entire time because she wanted the cupcake. But she wasn't really asleep.
When she shared this memory- my heart sank.
I don't remember saying that.
I don't remember this exact moment, but it didn't matter because Maya did remember.
I immediately apologized and said that I should have never said that. My face turned red, and I felt really embarrassed because that was not something I would say now.
I have learned more effective tools to use. Mistakes will happen, words will be said that might hurt feelings, and actions may cause pain- the magic is learning how to apologize, learn, and move forward in connection.
I am grateful that Maya shared her feelings about that day and that I was able to take accountability for how I handled the situation years before.
I also gave myself a mental high five for learning new tools that help me in the tough moments. I am now able to be remembered in a way that I'm proud of, and that meant staying present/calm/connected in the tough moments!
Haim Ginott began teaching early childhood-aged children in 1947. He was a pioneer in the field. His theories, quotes, studies, books, and overall human philosophy inspire me.
I studied his work after a conference I went to and fell deeply in love with his legacy.
He changed the script for me and taught me that anger is not a helpful tool while trying to teach someone something new. Which, when you're working with children, happens just about every minute of every day!
I have taken his and other's work and created a repeatable method that teachers and parents can use daily.
Start today with the Understanding Us series to better understand why you use inefficient teaching methods.
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