by Johanna Fredericks, Bachelor of Education, Perth
Last week I listened to a very real and practical interview with Kristy Wood on the home page of the ‘Kids in Connection’ web site. The interview is a personal sharing about connecting with kids that relates to what many teachers and kids are feeling in classrooms and homes today, and the behaviours that result from that.
Listening to the interview I had many ‘ah-ha’ moments about kids’ behaviour and what is going on in society today with children and the way we (as adults) are being with them. Well worth a listen…
The one aspect from the interview that I would like to focus on and share involves a very simple technique that has a quite powerful purpose and outcome. Kristy spoke about the importance of connecting with kids today and how very little children actually feel met and connected to. She shared that she started the class with a circle where each person was able to share.
I teach a class of children full-time and making it about the kids first has been a real priority for me for many years. Each day I pay attention to the way I prepare the classroom to support the children, how I speak with them and how I move my body. I make sure that each child knows that they are seen and listened to by the way I choose to engage with them from the moment they enter the room to when we say goodbye at the end of the day. I can vouch that connecting with kids first and making the day about how we are in the class leaves very little room for behaviour issues to be an ongoing problem.
So on one level I was already doing what Kristy was suggesting – a community circle was already part of our daily classroom rhythm. However, when I listened to the interview I felt there was more for me to explore. I know that when children (and all people) feel connected to, the environment feels more harmonious. We can always learn and even deepen in the way we connect and relate to others.
When we used to have community circle I always gave the children a mini-topic to relate their sharing to and I limited this to a sentence or two. I have now realised that even though this was still about them, there were rules about what I was asking them to express, i.e.,
- the topic at hand, and
- the ‘one or two sentences’.
What I was doing wasn’t bad and it was about taking a moment to be able to let each child feel heard by all first thing in the morning, to make sure I had looked into the eyes of each child. Naturally this little technique built their confidence to speak in a group and allowed them to be more supportive of each other in their relations during the day.
But there was more for me to look at… Kristy’s words offered me a potential to deepen this connection. I had never thought to say “Just share one thing”.
Also, during this circle time I now sit on the floor with the children, in the circle, as compared to sitting in the circle on a little chair. Both of these little changes have made a HUGE difference in our day. These small changes, which have been done in connection with the kids, are actually making a difference in these children’s lives. They are feeling heard and completely met. This has all come from my willingness to deepen the connection with children in the classroom.
Our class now feels like it is just filled with a group of people who connect, then get on with their different roles… A room full of people of different ages who support each other and who are making an effort with the way they are choosing to be in the room and with each other.