I’ve mentioned constructivism quite a bit so far, but I haven’t had much of a chance to speak on Humanism. I’ve been using this blog to reflect my own thoughts and experiences, and while we often talk about philosophies in a “bigger picture” idealistic type of way, often times it is the little things that can make a difference in a child’s day.
As mentioned before, I’ve been substituting for several years now. And while I enjoy being in the classroom, I often am placed in situations where there are behavioral plans or classroom management plans in place that I have a hard time agreeing with. That leads to a little bit of classroom confusion, as it also means that my own personal style of dealing with students is different than what they are used to.
In one instance, I was stuck making sure students did several problems from a book assignment. They weren’t engaged, and in this school I did not have a lot of freedom to move away from the script to make things more interesting. So, as children are wont to do when they are frustrated and bored, they act out. For one little boy, that meant that two students at the table where he was assigned to sit were spending their time harassing him instead of being productive. He did not say much, in fact it was only brought to my attention because one of the students who was doing the harassing tried to draw me into it!
What I encountered when I came over to see what was going on was a little boy with his fists clenched in anger as he tried desperately to hold back any negative response to these students who were intent on drawing one out of him. He looked up at me with eyes that pleaded for me to understand, as if to say “can’t you see I’m trying?” All I could think of, in that instance, was my own brother as a child having the same reaction to my father’s prodding that he work harder on his homework, his own blue eyes pleading for me (who was trying to help him) to please explain that he was trying so very hard and only needed a little more patience than what he was being given.
When I pulled the little boy away from that table, it broke my heart to see how upset he was, fearing that he had not been able to hold his emotions in enough and was in trouble now. I assured him that he was not in any trouble at all, and I only wanted him to be able to work in relative peace. I asked if he would like to work on the other side of the room for awhile, and I swear the look of relief and joy on his face nearly brought me to tears.
From that moment on, that little boy was the most respectful student to me that I think I have ever seen. He finished his assignment quickly and read quietly, grateful to be in a place he felt more comfortable (I ended up allowing him to stay there for the rest of the day. I wasn’t about to re-seat him with students who were bullying him. For those two, a note was left for the teacher as I was not allowed to do much more).
THIS is what I want to be. I want to be the teacher that my students trust to understand, who they know they can come to me if they are fearful, or frustrated, or just need someone to listen because I won’t react in punishment but in caring. I can still see that little boy in my mind, his whole body tense with anger and fear, preparing himself to get sent to the office before I had even kneeled down to find out what was wrong. I never want to see that in my own room, because if it ever gets to that point, I’ll know I have gone wildly wrong somewhere and hurt someone innocent in the process.