A January Moment With Mary

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you healthy, happy, and back in the swing of things.  When working with young children, January can often feel like we’ve somehow traveled back in time to the beginning of the school year, and we have to start from the beginning with setting up routines and expectations.

I will never forget one January when some students had completely forgotten who I was!  I was teaching music and had a Head Start classroom in my weekly schedule, but due to snow days and winter break, I had not seen the children in over a month. So when I walked into their classroom one January morning, I was excited to see them and hoped they would be excited to see me too.  But for the first ten minutes they truly had no idea who I was and why I was in their classroom.  One child even asked directly, “Who are you?” Ouch, that was personal.

Finally, after playing my ukulele and singing with them, I think I saw some level of recognition go across their little faces.  And by the end of the class, we were singing, moving, and having a good time.

That moment was not only a bit of a slam to my ego (sheesh!), but also a gentle reminder of who was in front of me.  These children were very little, but with big, important lives outside of the classroom.   And, as their teacher, I needed to meet them where they were and bring them to where I wanted them to be rather than expecting and insisting they jump in exactly where we left off.

So, be patient.  Be gentle with them and yourself.  Stay firm with the routines and classroom expectations.  Laugh instead of scold when they don’t remember something that to you, seems so obvious. And know that if your students remembered your name when they walked in the morning after winter break, you are already winning.

Sending lots of light and love your way,

Mary