What also happens here?

Just over a month ago, I wrote this post: The Part That is True It is about a boy named “Harry” and how he learns, what he needs and how he is viewed. It is about how we honour each child. About adult judgement. About asking ourselves as educators: Is my classroom safe and inclusive for all learners?

I wrote this post because I needed to write it. I needed to put what I was feeling into words and I needed to strengthen my resolve to continue advocating for all of the children like Harry who will walk through my classroom door and be a part of my life. That this post spoke to so many others was more than encouraging. The comments and feedback gave me hope and allowed me to engage with so many about how we work with the children in our classrooms.

But something else happened. Some teachers contacted me privately and talked about their struggles to support some of the students in their room. It wasn’t about the child so much as the system. The lack of supports. Other staff who didn’t share their philosophy. They talked about overwhelming needs, safety concerns and children who are experiencing a lot of stress.

Two things struck me. One, always the frustration was not about the child. Two, we don’t often talk about this. At least not out in the open.

Why?

Part of it is that so many of us who are sharing about what happens in our classrooms and schools, focus on the positive. And so we should. We highlight and showcase the wonderful. This speaks to our optimism. Our ability to find joy in the everyday landscape of a learning community. It is where we start each day and what we carry with us to be able to keep doing and loving this work.

Another part is that by talking about our struggles with upset and behaviour, we are cautious. We want to protect privacy. We don’t want to judge. We don’t want to tell the story that sometimes things are really hard. Because even though it is about what children do, we know it is about so much more.

And I think we also feel in some ways like it is an admission of not being able to cope. That if things are challenging, we are not managing. It takes large amounts of inner strength to take a breath in the middle of a child’s “outburst” and say, “This is about so much more than me.” And then to take charge, ensure safety, and help to keep everyone’s self worth intact.

It is easy to think this isn’t happening in other classrooms. I consistently share moments of happiness and joy and celebration. But the truth is that there is also drama and trauma.

Honestly, sometimes I read blog posts from other educators and think, wow. Wow, but how do they do that? I can’t get there because of things that are going on. Like the challenges transitioning back in from recess. The child who can’t manage change and is under the desk. The child who won’t come on that beautiful nature walk and so we all need to go back inside because we don’t have the staff to supervise everyone. From the conversations I have been having with other educators, other people are feeling exactly the same thing. They are also making the assumption that the struggles are not happening in these other classrooms that are so full of learning and passion.

My classroom is where beautiful learning happens. Joy. Happiness. Growth.

But, what also happens here?

Sometimes large amounts of upset. Aggression. Crying. Screaming. Hiding. Under the table. Behind a shelf. In the cloakroom. Running out of the room. Refusing to come in from outside. Games get thrown to the ground. A carefully constructed tower is kicked over. There has been biting. Pushing. Pinching. A few times we have had to get everyone out of the room and call for help to deescalate a child.

Those things also happen. In my room.

This post is not about all of these questions: Why? Who is responsible? How do we fix it? Those are big questions that I am not tackling now.

 What also happens here? Talking about what we don't often talk about - the fact that there can be outbursts and behaviour challenges in our classrooms. There's a Book for That

This post is just to remind us all that we are not alone. As we teach and learn and work with children – through the joy and the challenges, we are all in this together.

 

16 thoughts on “What also happens here?

  1. Beautiful post. Those difficult days are a reality for so many children. I love that you acknowledge that ‘it’s not about me’. Such an important piece for all to know.

    • Thank you for the comment Candy. I think it is so important to not take the behaviour personally. We can’t be of help to the child if we are so worried about our own feelings. When we can let that go, we can be present for the child. And yes, difficult days.

  2. Well said, Carrie. I believe also that some who might want to write specifically about challenges with colleagues’ attitude toward certain students are wondering if they should. It’s easy to celebrate, but not as easy to describe challenges without someone recognizing the child or adult being described. I hope everyone who reads the positive posts do realize that there are challenges always. We’re teaching “people” after all, & none are perfect, some arrive with problems we cannot help, or issues that take many months/years to solve. Yes. those kids are in our classes too, & sometimes we don’t find out much until about now. Great post, calls for a great conversation, too!

    • Very true. It’s something we need to be able to discuss but we need to be so cautious. A fine line. I think what is sad is that teachers can feel so alone in their rooms. We are often likely to share how we made our reading conferences better but we don’t often share in the same way how we might have handled a behaviour issue. Part of that is that situations are so specific to child, community and relationship. But it is important I think for people to not feel alone with challenges.

      • I agree, Carrie. I know that some feel judged and do blame themselves for not doing better! You are right. We don’t share the same way about discipline. I’ll need to think about that, and why. Thanks for beginning such thoughtful conversations.

      • I think also because situations with each child are so complex and private. But we definitely could be doing more to talk about how we generally structure things to make our days go smoother. Something we will have to think about.

  3. Thanks for your post, Carrie. When I read other teachers blogs and everything seems so “sunshine and roses” I wonder why my days at school don’t always seem like that. I have told parents and colleagues that the beginning of a school day always starts off fesh, and new, and sane but that by the time the bell rings at the end if the day, I feel like I have lost a bit of my sanity. We all have days that we are happy to hear the 3:00 bell ring. Thanks for having the courage to share these feelings that we too often keep to ourselves.

    • I think the reality is that even in the “sunshine and roses” there is challenge. It all is part of it. I’ve had magical moments that occur just a few minutes after something really challenging. But we have to be forgiving – of each other and of ourselves.

  4. Important issue for sure! Sometimes blog posts have a way of making things sound so wonderful all the time – and I know that there are many days when my lessons bomb because of things beyond my control. Behavior issues can erode the spirit of many teaching days and I think your point about not taking it personally is one we need to continue to remind ourselves and our colleagues about. Thanks for your honesty!

    • I appreciate you commenting Adrienne. You are right that often things go totally in different directions than we had planned. Possibly that is why we get so excited when things go really well! But yes, we have to be good to ourselves and not take on the responsibility of everything. It is a hard position to maintain sometimes – to not take it all personally. But so important!

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  6. This is so true! Sometimes we get down about the not-successes in our classrooms, and it’s really hard to write about. We all love reading and writing about the great stuff, and like you said, we should. But we should also put our hearts on our sleeves every once in a while and be honest that there are days that are discouraging. I think Katherine Sokolowski does a good job with that. She writes a lot about joy, but she also doesn’t hesitate to write about the disappointments. It makes everyone feel a lot better that we’re not the only ones that struggle sometimes!!

    • You are right – Katherine does this beautifully. Thanks for the comment Holly – I think we are on exactly the same page – offer up the balance – the highs and the lows and be open.

  7. Thank you. Thank you for speaking it. We are not alone. We are not the only ones with struggles. When we look around at all the blogs it may seem that way though so thank you for being brave and honest and reminding us to do the same.

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