Recently I asked a former colleague (and close friend) who works in my district’s central office for counseling if she would come in a observe in my classroom. I wanted a fresh set of eyes to see my students and suggest strategies I could use to help them. In addition, I wanted someone who has known me long enough and well enough to not need to be kind in telling me about what’s going on here. I wanted someone to watch and see if the ways I was responding to kids was making the situation worse sometimes. (I genuinely think that’s happening with a few kids, unfortunately. Some of it is my own stupid need for power and control, something I’m constantly fighting against in the classroom. Some of it is just not knowing how best to respond in certain situations and doing whatever comes to mind first.)
She spent a couple of hours with us on our first day back after the kids had been off for four days. It was a slightly more challenging day than usual, as a result. I am grateful beyond words for her thoughtful observations and knowledgeable suggestions. A week later I can see clear positive changes resulting from her visit.
After she had gone we texted a bit, trying to find a time to debrief. At some point I said something about feeling as though I was hindering rather than helping kids, at least sometimes. Her response really got me.
She said that I have “shown them that there are limits to patience.”
That statement was an incredible gift. I am not eight years old. I have to be able to control my own reactions and behavior better than my students should be able or expected to do. But I am human. I have limits too. And I am allowed to have limits. I am allowed to be human.I am grateful for that reminder.