Sometimes with all of the busy and all of the rushing and all of the stuff we have to do in schools, we can forget to be gentle. Sometimes gentle is the most important choice we make.
It’s the most necessary thing we can do.
A morning can begin with loud and disruptive and off task and when all of our attention goes to those things, we might miss the one child who needed the room to be especially quiet. Who needed a little bit of time. Who needed a moment of special attention.
Yesterday, I found this child still in the cloakroom when everyone else was lining up for the library. He was sitting at the desk meant for quiet work hiding his head in his arms.
I could have shooed him off. Insisted he get in the line up. It was my prep time. I had lots to do.
But the room is his as much as mine. He needed it more than me right then. I told him I would be back and brought the class down to the library.
When I returned, he hadn’t moved. I gave him choices not questions. Did he want me to walk him to the library? Would he like to come and make coffee with me? Both choices involved him getting up and moving. He nodded at the coffee so we grabbed supplies —mini Bodum, a jar of coffee and yesterday’s cup — and headed out of the room.
In the staffroom kitchen, I talked as I completed simple tasks. Boiling the water. Filling the Bodum. Mindlessly reorganizing the spoons.
“Do you think the dishwasher is clean or dirty? I wonder if my favourite cup is hanging on the wall? I think I have some granola bars in the room. Are you hungry?”
He found me a cup I had used before. Peeked in the dishwasher and realizing it was empty, put my dirty cup inside. The wrong way up. I opened the dishwasher and showed him how it worked – where the water came from, how it swirled around. He ended his silence.
“How do you turn it on? What does this button do?”
We talked. Made a single cup of dark coffee. Side by side puttering by the sink.
“I have some things to do. Do you want to go to the library or stay with me?”
Little eyes peeked at me as we walked down the hall.
I set up some prep work and handed him some math materials,
“Why don’t you do some more math?”
We worked side by side.
I sipped coffee. His energy returned.
He began recording equations on the white board. I offered him an entire day’s worth of attention within twenty minutes. Praise. Smiles. Little corrections.
It poured rain outside. Our temperamental heater kicked itself on. The class across the hall was quiet.
Coffee. Math. Quiet.
Somedays, they need more. Somedays, they need us to acknowledge all of the little things they might do. Somedays, they need especially to matter. Somedays, they centre themselves on our smile. Calm. Safe. Welcoming.
I got everything done. This little guy reset his morning. He went downstairs at recess and played games in the basement avoiding the rain. Content. Secure.
Today, I opened the novel I am reading to the class and found a homemade paper bookmark with my name on it. “Books are loved,” it says.
I held it up to look more closely and noticed him at my elbow.
“I made that for you,” he grinned at me.
I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.
Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.