Managing to Pause and Listen

Last Friday morning I had one little friend show up a bit later than usual and miss all the socializing he usually does during our breakfast time. And then he didn’t join us for our morning meeting. I sat near the class (a different student runs our morning meeting each day so I’m there but try to be on the fringe and allow them to go for it) and watched my friend, debating what to do. Should I tell him he needed to join us because that’s the expectation each morning? Should I tell him he needed to do what we’re doing so that he can be a part of field day in the afternoon?

I paused. Thank goodness. And sat there debating. Finally I decided I should go talk with him, determine what was going on. I stopped long enough to not allow his behavior to push my buttons and have me respond in frustration. I don’t always manage to do this. I’m not sure about the percentage of times but I’d guess 75% at best am I successful. But this morning I was.

Because my kids run our morning meeting I could confidently walk away, cross the room, and sit down next to this little darling. I asked, “What’s going on?” And got quite a saga about things that had gone wrong before he got to school today and the things about the coming day that were already seeming challenging to him.

I sat there thinking, “Well, yeah, it does seem like you’ve had a rough morning.” I said, “So you feel like you need a moment to yourself?” He said yes and I headed back to the rest of the class.

After our morning meeting we spent an hour and a half reading and/or writing (students got to decide how they wanted to spend their time). This little darling loves to read and jumped back in with us. He wrapped up his brochure, the published result of my students’ research projects, and I printed it. He was thrilled. And that may be an understatement. I feel pretty confident that wouldn’t have happened if I’d “held him accountable” for doing what was expected first thing that morning.

I know I have days when I need others (and myself) to show me grace, give me space, and be extra patient with me. And I’m nearly half a century old. I wish we could, as a society, do a better job of seeing kids the same way we see ourselves. It could make such a difference in how we interact and, therefore, in how they develop and grow.


One response to “Managing to Pause and Listen”

  1. Michael Honel Avatar
    Michael Honel

    Jennifer, this is the best thing I’ve read in awhile. I just love how you were able to see this child as an individual rather than as just another member of the class not doing what you expected. I’ve been teaching for 37 years, and there is still so much room for improvement!

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