Dimitra Spyratou – 17/12/2021
Time to STOP
It has been a while now that I wanted to write a blog post. There were different topics on my mind; an interesting classroom project, a challenging behaviour, an inspiring idea heard during a workshop. Topics were coming and going and I never wrote anything about them, not even a little note on a small paper. But here I am now writing this blog post after a long day at work on a very dark evening in December.
The winter break is starting in a couple of days and I believe that I speak for many people out there when I am trying to describe just how much that break is needed. Perhaps it is needed more than it has ever been before! We all need to take this time away, reset our brains and bodies and readjust our focus. Progress reports and meetings with parents, classroom expectations, learning outcomes, goals and objectives, documentation, evaluation meetings and more meetings and and… time to STOP!
STOP is a little funny word, don’t you think? Easy and difficult at the same time to do. It is easy because you only have to do nothing and it is difficult for the exact same reason. But is that so? What really happens when we actually decide to STOP?
Set our priorities
Being in the middle of the ‘storm’, it is hard to touch base and we forget what this is all about (or we remember but there is no other choice). Teaching is a very demanding profession; includes many different tasks and requires the teacher to have different roles. As an early years teacher, my day can include planning and documentation of learning but also wiping tears, rubbing hurting tummies and building towers with blocks. I am a teacher, a friend and a play buddy. So, what is this all about? It is about the children. It is about them and only them. They are in the centre and all we do should be for their wellbeing, their development and their needs as individuals. At the end of the day, our only priority is that and only that.
Try to be kind to ourselves
Yes, teaching is a demanding job but we should always remember that we are only humans. We cannot do everything, we will make mistakes and we will forget things, sometimes even important things. And you know what? That’s ok. We should remember to take care of ourselves; take small breaks, get fresh air during the day, drink enough water (even if we need an app to remind us about that), breathe. To be honest, there are days that some of these things just don’t happen for me. There are days that I feel guilty for not planning the week more or for not being ‘productive’ enough. But when I STOP, I realise that perhaps I did not plan the week more because I wanted to leave more room for the children’s input and I was not as ‘productive’ because the transitions took more time that day or the weather was good and the children could have more play time outdoors.
Organise our thoughts
When we STOP we can put our thoughts in an order and prepare better. For example, I noticed recently that when I get some time before doing an activity with the children, to organise my thoughts, collect the material and break it down into easy steps that I will explain to them, then the activity will run smoother, the children will enjoy it and I will be able to be present, observe and facilitate their learning. I know that I did not invent the wheel there! But there are days that there is not enough time even for that and I personally treasure those days that I have the opportunity to do it.
Practice listening and reflecting
Setting our priorities clearly, being kind to ourselves and giving us time to organise our thoughts and actions will open up a whole new world in which we can practice listening and reflecting. We should take a step back and really listen to the children, observe their behaviour and their interactions. What are they interested in? What do they need help with socially and how can we support them? Even when they don’t have enough words to share, their behaviour is an expression of a need. A challenging behaviour can require a lot of energy to deal with and teachers need support and time out of it to try to understand it and therefore, find how to transform it. Reflection is an important part of everything that happens in the classroom and it also requires some distance and time. When we STOP we can think what went well, what could have been different and what we can do next, we can celebrate our good moments and find ways to improve.
I don’t even remember that interesting classroom project, I am not sure about which challenging behaviour I wanted to write about and the inspiring idea heard during the workshop has slipped my mind, but I am proud I stopped for a few minutes to finally write a blog post and share some of my thoughts with you.
Enjoy your holidays
P.S. When you also manage to STOP, write your own thoughts in a blog post and share it with the emJoy team. We are happy to publish it on our blog page!