I never lose my temper and I never yell. It's something I'm actually pretty proud of when it comes to my job. When the world within the four walls of our classroom is suddenly out of control, I've developed a sleeve-full of strategies. None of them include anger, a loud voice, or any form of punishment. It's all about slowing it down and regaining the control and predictability.
I have a little one this year that's going to test me.
And just like any corny movie, I know his tests will make me a stronger, better, more adaptable form of my teacher-self.
Today, I kind of had a meltdown. Yes, me. I'm as surprised as you are. I would like to say that it's because this child is just too much for me to handle... too much for anyone to handle. But, no. I'm pretty sure it's because I'm exhausted from the week. He's exhausted, too. We're all exhausted from a whole lot of hard work.
And, don't get me wrong! The hard work is paying off! I am loving the culture that is brewing in my classroom. The kiddos are developing kindness toward one another, laughing at each other's "jokes," and every single one of my kinders is quiet and absorbingly engaged when I read a book. That last part is enough to outweigh everything else. It's that wide-eyed love of read-alouds that makes this age so special... and this class has it down to a T.
So, today, I got into a power struggle with a five-year-old. And it was close to the end of the day. And the defiance was just more than I could handle for that minute.
Well, that's not exactly right. I could handle it. But, I knew in that moment that I wasn't going to handle it with the grace, love, and patience that I wanted to. I wasn't going to handle it the way I expect myself to handle it.
So, I called for help. And I hated every minute of it. Call me prideful or stubborn, but I really hate asking for help at my job. But, I just needed someone to take him off my hands for 10 minutes. I could feel that I was taking his behavior and the struggle personally, and that's the one thing a teacher should never do. Maybe part of being strong is being able to admit when you're weak and need help. I sure hope so.
I felt a bit like a sleep-deprived new mom in the middle of the night. All I could think of was, "Don't shake the baby. Don't shake the baby."
And I didn't. And we worked through it. And he was all over me with lingering hugs when it was done. Good thing he's so darn huggable.
Moral of the story -- I'm not sure. But, don't shake the baby. It's all going to be fine. I just might have to tell myself that a few more times in the coming weeks. With a little grace, a whole lot of patience, and some "I'm-gonna-stay-calm-and-wait-until-you're-ready," I know we'll turn it around.