This blog comes to us from Darcy Heath, an early childhood education facilitator at the Buffett Early Childhood Institute in Nebraska. Darcy is leading a book study and offers us an important perspective.
“I don’t have the time.” That was the first statement I heard from one of the preschool teachers as we sat down to begin our Powerful Interactions book study.
“I don’t have time to be present because I am too busy thinking about lesson plans, and IEPs, and behavior. I have to figure out whose pickup plans have changed and what materials I need for small groups. I have too much static to be present.”
Do you know what? She’s partly right. Educators have a lot on their plates and that leads to static. A lot of static. The question to consider is this: How do you set aside all of that static so that you can be present and have the powerful interactions that students need to learn and grow?
I invite you to begin by pausing and quieting your static about static. Put aside for a minute how much you have to focus on and do as an educator, as a parent, as a spouse, and as a friend. Take a breath and reflect upon your day. During what part of the school day do you have the least amount of static?
Is it first thing in the morning when the students get there, after you’ve had your coffee
and a chance to chat with your colleagues? Is it right after lunch when you’ve had a few minutes to decompress and are energized? Perhaps it is during station time when every child is engaged in a different activity and you feel like you can pause and focus on one particular child. Whenever it is that you determine your static is the least – start there.
As I shared with the preschool teachers during our book study, don’t start with the expectation of having powerful interactions all day, every day. That idea can be daunting and overwhelming. Instead, think about an entry point and start small. When can you effectively calm your static and have one powerful interaction with one student?
After you determine when you might best be successful – commit to starting there and having one powerful interaction per day. You’ll be surprised at how achievable that is! And when you have mastered calming your static and having one powerful interaction, commit to adding another one, and after that another one. Just as any other skill takes practice, so does the skill of being present. It will become easier with time and intentionality.
Getting back to the teacher who lamented she just didn’t have time; she is finding that she does have time after all and is having meaningful, powerful interactions with her students, every day. And it all started by pausing and reflecting upon her own static and making the intentional effort to pause and be present.
I invite you to do the same.