Recently I found myself in a classroom with this one boy…
He was grumpy all day. He clearly didn’t want to be at school, and didn’t want much to do with me. I gave him his space but continued to be kind. OK, I am overly gushy with sweetness when a student doesn’t want me around. Anyway.
After lunch, this boy’s attitude was noticeably worse, so I quietly asked him to come to my desk. Here’s how our conversation went.
Me: What’s wrong?
Student: (whispered mumble that vaguely resembled “nothing”)
Me: Well, your mouth said “nothing” but your body, your face, and your voice tell me something’s wrong. I want you to have a good day, and I really want to help but I can’t if you don’t tell me.
Me: Are you mad?
Student: (nods head)
Me: Ok. Are you mad about something that happened at school or at home?
Me: Ok. Did something happen this morning or at lunch?
And then, this tough boy put his head in his hands and began crying, telling me that he got hurt at recess. I pulled him in for a hug, and let him stay as long as he needed. We talked about what happened and walked down to the nurse as a precaution. Then, for the entire afternoon, that sweet boy was by my side whenever I needed anything. “Miss O, can I pass out those papers?” “Miss O, do you need any help?” “Miss O, can I collect the papers for you?”
Listening – really, truly listening with your eyes and everything – makes such a difference. Yes, I know we don’t listen with our eyes. But I’m guilty of listening while looking at something else. So listening with my eyes is a much higher level of paying attention.
Since I became a substitute teacher, I’ve worked on bringing lessons into our home so I can be a better mom. I need to listen with my eyes so my children know they are worthy of my attention. I need to notice their body language and dig in to find the truth rather than just hearing their words of “I’m fine”. I need to stop dismissing grumpiness when there could be pain. Physical or emotional pain might ooze out in many other forms. I pray I don’t mistake or ignore (intentionally or not) my children’s pain.
So there’s my current goal. Listening with my eyes. Go explain that one to a literal preschooler.