We are well into a new school year and this is a good time to reflect on what we are thankful for. I think this is a good exercise for all educators in November. Too often, it is easy to see the glass half empty.
So, this is my list – what is on yours?
I am most thankful for educators who deal with so many children who are already in crisis mode when they enter the school. Dr. Stuart Shanker writes that many of our children enter the school under tremendous stress for a number of reasons – so much can happen to our children before they even enter our classrooms. A good summary is included from a portion of an infographic that can be downloaded for free from the Mehrit Centre.
Our staff excel at dealing with children in this heightened sense of stress. Most are able to see that misbehaviour is actually stress behaviour. They then work to create a safe space in our school so that the child at least has six hours where the crisis mentality is reduced and students can begin to learn.
What does this look like? I am thankful for all these actions.
Staff that create calm spaces in their classrooms to help students transition throughout the day.
Educational assistants who patiently accompany children throughout the day and by their very presence allow the student to be successful
The gentleness that staff show towards troubled children and the sense of safety this creates
The flexibility of all educators to deal with a hectic schedule and for knowing when some of their kids need a break
The professionalism of staff members who write thoughtful and incisive progress reports that are a true reflection of the strengths and needs of our children.
The openness and welcoming atmosphere created by office administrators and custodians to all visitors to our school – they support the open, welcoming atmosphere that helps students and parents feel safe.
The creativity and calmness shown by our early childhood educators that make the challenging transition of our newest students to school atmosphere as stress-free as possible. This is truly an amazing feat as many of our children have not been exposed to large groups of children before – just think how stressful this can be!
The main element in all this is the creation of an oasis of Peace. The more we learn about the social emotional needs of our children, the importance of a peaceful, nurturing environment becomes the most important factor that leads to success for our children.