Saturday, March 23, 2013

Don't be do you talk to your children?

One of the key messages that I took away after listening to Lilian Katz a few weeks ago was...don't be phony. I was very reflective on my own practice and the way that I interact with children. I observed my colleagues and tried to be more aware of my own actions and words with the children for the weeks following.

I had an incredible discussion with my teaching partner. She talked about the changes throughout last year and this year in the way that I speak to children. I never realized that I used to change my tones, slow down  my speech and almost over pronounce things. I was not even conscious of this. I truly believe that I have always held a high level of respect for every student that I have taught, but that doesn't mean I haven't been "phony".

Changing the way you speak to children continues to transform the way you think about young children. I have grown to be more honest, to speak to children not as though they are 3 years old...but as though they are a "learner" or ... to be honest, "a person".

I think many people (myself included) speak to children as though they are children. We change our language, our tone, our messages...often without knowing that we are doing it.

Lilian shared a perfect example: a little boy was playing in the sandbox in the classroom, he decided to throw sand up in the air. The teacher said "We don't do things like that at school".

Well...he just did. So of course we do things like that. It may not be what that teacher wanted, but we can do that.

How many times have I heard that...and I must admit, said that!

LANGUAGE is so important. What we say, how we say it, our tone of voice, our honesty...

Be real with children...don't be phony.

She suggested saying "I don't want you to throw sand it's annoying" is messy, it bothers me.
Tell them the truth...why don't you want them to do what they are doing.

Low and behold, I was sitting with some of the children in our building area when one of the boys began to pretend that one of the blocks was a gun. What did I say?? You guessed it ... "we don't play with guns at school".

The difference? This time I stopped and I said to the child. "Actually, I see that you were pretending to have a gun. It doesn't make me feel safe when you use weapons in our classroom and I don't like it". He looked at me and put down the block. We didn't talk again, he was respectful and understood why I asked him to stop.

Lilian explained that creating a phony classroom culture "fails to involve children in making good sense of their experiences and environments".

If you asked me last year whether or not I spoke differently to children, I doubt I would have said yes...I transformed when I was with the children not in a bad way, but I was definitely different. Now, as I grow in my understanding of this new learning and deepen my respect for the true intelligence that is within young children...I reflect on my own practice and am so proud of my transformation.

I think ultimately it comes down to respect. We cannot show children that we respect them as learners by using phony techniques. We can only truly show children that we respect them as learners by treating them with respect and being real with them.

So...I continue to try to sort it all out. How to speak and interact with young to support them...what to to say it....I am proud of myself as I continue to develop my skills in communicating and being real with my students...they deserve it!


  1. You have realized a truth many teachers never discover. Being truthful and explaining why we feel how we feel really connects children and their learning coaches (teachers). They sometimes find that you are the only person willing to be candid with them. Never give that up, no matter the cost.

  2. Thank you for your honest reflection. The notion of connecting with children is something that I always thought I had done well, but upon further reflection I have realized it is an area we can always improve on. My relationships this year are the deepest I have ever felt with our students.

  3. I have also reflected on the way that I speak to children and act towards them. I keep one quote in mind that my mother shared with me when I had my son, "Remember that you are raising a person". Then I remember the quote "It is always easier to raise a child, than to fix an adult". Both quotes resonate with me in the way that I speak to (and act towards) these small people in my life.