Christina: I’m so happy to be here today, chatting about resilience and what that looks like. And I think as educators, it’s important to know that we are resilient just by being in the classroom. There’s so much thrown our way, and just you being able to show up every day and be that strong rock for your classroom, that is the perfect example of resilience.
Teri: Yes. And we know that 93% of our communication skills are nonverbal. That’s huge.
Teri: So if you think about a typical classroom situation, the teacher’s going to have, perhaps there’s some staff call outs that day. Maybe, oh no, the director forgot to tell them there’s a new child transferring into the classroom, so there’s a new student. Maybe you have some kids that are just off. You know, maybe it’s a Monday. And they’ve been switching between their households and a custody situation on the weekend. So the kids come in, completely thrown off. All the real world things that happen in your classroom really require that: a resilient attitude. And just that ability to roll with the punches, problem solve when things don’t go as they should. And with that big number, 93% of body language is communicated without your words.
Teri: So think of what that means to your kids and classroom.
Christina: That’s huge.
Teri: So they’re watching as things happen. Even if you have a smile on your face and you’re saying all the right things, if you’re moving hastily, and you’re kind of short with your answers, that comes off to the kids.
Teri: And we know with resiliency, it’s just so important to have a strong role model who’s demonstrating great social, emotional skills, modeling empathy, and how we should respond when we’re in a chaotic, stressful environment.
Teri: That teachers, just the way they present themselves to the classroom, the way they carry themselves and how they handle the stress and the chaos of daily life as a teacher is really foundational for these kids as they’re developing skills.
Christina: Right. And I think it’s important to highlight the fact that you are modeling how to handle all that for your children, and the children are watching you, and they’re soaking that up. So it’s super important to just be positive and have that at the forefront of your mind, as things are going chaotic. They’re watching your reaction, and that’s the reaction that they will mirror.
Teri: Right. And I think problem solving skills, too.
Christina: Yes, definitely.
Teri: If you think of a child who’s struggling, maybe they’ve come into the classroom, they need to take off their jacket, and their zipper’s stuck, right? That’s a great example, like a teacher rushing over as they think, “We need to transition. We’ve got to get over to circle time, so let me just get that for you.” Instead of doing that, it’s helping the child. Let them struggle a little bit. Let them work through that. If they start to get frustrated, then walking over, and being there with them, but not doing it for them. So, “Hey, maybe you could try it this way. Why don’t you adjust it this way? I know you can do it. Keep trying.” And then when they cross that, there’s like a little line they cross, and if you sense that they’re going into that downward spiral, then okay, step in and do it. But just being that gentle guide to help them work through the hard things that come up. Maybe it’s a situation with sharing. All the different friendship dramas that happen in our classroom.
Teri: Being a guide to navigate those hard times, and just showing them how they can do things a little bit differently to get the same result.
Christina: So you mentioned problem solving, and I was just wondering if there is an example that you had that you could illustrate.
Teri: Sure. Yeah. So what comes to mind for me is the blocks. So, blocks are always in really high demand. Everyone wants to be over in the block area building, and you could have a child who’s maybe got their excitement built up. It’s finally their turn. So they’re all eager. They want to build a castle, and they want it to have, in their mind, they can see it going a certain way. And every time they get there, someone knocks it off, and the child refrains from having a meltdown, continues, tries again, tries again. But it keeps falling. And they’re just at that melting point where it’s all going to downward spiral, but you can walk over as a teacher and just provide a little guidance and support, and help them instead of saying, “Look, look, this is what’s going on.”
It’s like, “Hey, let’s look a little differently at this. What do you think you’re doing that’s maybe making it fall down? Let’s get way down under and look. Let’s look at that bottom. layer of blocks. How’s your foundation look? Do you have a little tiny one that’s holding all of it up, and they’re all about to crumble? What could we do differently to make it solid?”
And that’s going to go over much better than if you had walked over and just said, “Here, this is what you need to do.”
Teri: Right? So the child’s learning. And if they get to the point of it’s not working, and they’ve tried three times and they’re upset, talk about failure. Like, “That’s okay. That’s how we learn.”
Teri: “I know you’re upset. I know you’re really sad, but you’re learning how to build a castle, because it didn’t work. You wouldn’t learn what you need to do differently if it didn’t work.”
Christina: It didn’t work. That’s so true.
Teri: Failure is such a key. It’s changing the kids’ mindset, learning that failure is okay. You don’t have to be so worried about being perfect all the time.
Christina: Yeah. And that’s definitely something that they will also take with them as they grow. So that’s huge, if they can get comfortable with that starting now. It starts now, really, in the classroom.
Meet Your Students Where They’re At
Your classroom is filled with unique students. All of them have different stories, different personalities, and different backgrounds. But one thing that remains true is how important it is for you to approach each child with love, grace, and understanding. Meeting them where they’re at is huge.
This is especially important during those times where you want to rush through things with them because you want to avoid frustration on your end or throwing off your schedule. In these moments, it’s critically important to take a step back and see the big picture. Taking the time to slow down and teach them, show them kindness, and be patient. It can make such a big difference in how they learn and react to things moving forward.
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