Because I am a member of ASCD, I get a new book sent to me each month as part of my membership. That is wonderful! Add to them the books that I purchase on my own and I am amassing quite an impressive professional library. I read as many blog pieces as time allows. And I try to attend several Edcamps and conferences each year.
Sometimes the solutions to my problems cannot be found in either of the above. No matter how hard I try I just can’t figure out what to do. No matter what approach I use there are times when I simply am unable to reach certain children.
Do I ask my Voxer group for advice? Sometimes. But there are even times when this amazing group can’t help me.
So what now?
I turn to a child. Why didn’t I think of this in the first place? We’ve all encountered situations where a child was able to make a connection that we couldn’t. Older siblings teach their younger brothers and sisters things that absolute amaze us.
And yet we rarely look to children for advice. Instead we consult a colleague or we go online to find the latest article on the topic. Not that there is anything wrong with this approach. In this world of PLN’s and digital connectedness, we have access to the greatest minds in education right at our fingertips.
Yet, I can’t help but think that we are not tapping into what may be our greatest resource. The children.
I for one am going to start enlisting their help more often. In fact, I did just that earlier this week. I had a situation that I wasn’t quite sure how to handle. Two boys, who can be highly volatile, got into a small fight. More of a pushing match, if you will.
One of the boys was able to quickly move on. I knew he would be fine the rest of the day. The other student I was very concerned about. He has a hard time letting things go and I knew this was going to be no exception.
The problem was that I needed to get both boys together to mediate the situation so that they could move forward with their day. But how? I consulted a few colleagues, but neither of them had a definitive solution. My shelf full of books didn’t make a peep. I was certain that my Voxer group was already at work dealing with their own issues so checking with them was not an option.
So I made a decision to ask a child for help. In fact, the child that I asked was the boy had already put the fight behind him. I sat him down and told him I needed him to do me a favor. I asked him if, once I got them both in my office, he could apologize first.
This was huge! Huge because I think it was the only way to get the other boy to process the event and move forward. And huge because the boy who I was asking to apologize first was not the one who had that started the fight.
I still wasn’t sure if this would work. But I was hoping. He waited on the sofa. I was so proud of him for agreeing to do this. When the other boy entered my office he decided he didn’t want to sit down. He was still upset and observably uncomfortable. This wasn’t easy for him. But then he received an apology. And that was all it took. He apologized too.
While it wasn’t a kumbaya moment, it was progress. Progress that I am certain would not have been made if I hadn’t asked the one boy for help. Both boys were able to finish the day in school and they did not have any more issues with each other.
Looking back I lament the fact that I haven’t asked students for help more often. Of course there are times when situations need to be handled strictly by adults. And that makes sense. We are the professionals and we are trained to do our jobs.
But I believe there are many situations that take place over the course of a day where we could and we should turn to our students for help. And when we do, I think we need to be prepared. Prepared for just how much they have to offer. What do we have to lose?