“Creating CONNECTION is more important than getting attention.” It helps us to create a safe place wherein we feel seen, heard, or valued. But when it comes to young minds, it is much more than just a safe place, It’s our FAITH AND BELIEF that ensures a holistic learning environment.
I usually come to school early as I like to spend some time alone in my class to collect myself, set the flow of the agenda and prepare myself for the day. When children enter the class, I kneel down to their level and welcome them with open arms. Some come running for the hugs, some opt for a high-five and some just smile. Coming down to their level helps me empathize and connect as children sit around me and start sharing their cute stories. Gradually it becomes OUR-TIME where children start opening up and share their heart out which makes them feel LOVED & ACCEPTED. With enough of their sharings, they listen to my experiences as well and that makes me feel LOVED. 🙂
One day I observed one of my pupils taking off the class decor which was within his reach and I felt a little anxious as to how to stop him from doing that. The very next moment I saw another pupil fixing the class decor and I instantly appreciated her. Later during the day, I saw the former pupil fixing the class decor and after fixing, he looked at me. I smiled at him and said, “I see that you are fixing the class decor and I really appreciate you for your mindful efforts”. He revealed his dazzling smile and observing this, other children also started fixing things around the class. That day I realized how APPRECIATION helps connect to the child and with more appreciation, we not only create a ripple effect but we also set the tone for our class culture. Since I started appreciating children, they started appreciating each other. A candid conversation amongst children during snack/lunch break revealed that they are appreciating each other for sharing spoons, for helping when in need, and even for the small funny things like holding hands. 🙂
I appreciate them for making mistakes as that’s the pathway to learn new things. Children often hear me saying “It’s OKAY to make mistakes, that’s how we learn new things” or “Superheros are the ones who keep trying till they succeed.” At times, I deliberately make mistakes and children proactively correct me. I deliberately fail and they cheer me up. This helps me become a part of their journey where they realize that everyone falls once in a while and that it’s OKAY to fall. Important is to keep trying 🙂 SO, Children should feel OKAY to make mistakes.
Children often share their little problems, the first thing I do is acknowledge their feelings. They need to know that they are understood which helps me connect instantly. No matter how young they are, informing children about the entire process or flow of sessions in advance not only ensures their better cooperation but also makes them feel respected. During a reading session, I chose a book but one of my pupils brought another book. I said, “Okay, let’s take everyone’s vote on this and we will go with the majority.” Respecting their choice or giving them one ensures two-way communication which makes them feel valued and they feel free to express themselves.
If nothing works, there is one sure shot way to connect to children and that is STORYTELLING. A TEACHER HAS TO BE A STORYTELLER. If a teacher practices the art of storytelling, she/he should be able to observe intense focus, longer attention span, and instant connectivity with pupils. Their twinkling eyes create MAGIC in the class and the teacher experiences a rush of joy and deep satisfaction. Addiction to STORIES is the best addiction as it widens the horizons of our imagination and helps us create experiences. Once something enters into our mind as an experience, it stays there forever. Such is the POWER OF STORYTELLING.
One of my major revelations during my very young teachership journey is that children have immense potential and we are the ones who generally tend to limit. With CONNECTION in place, children can take any task as a challenge and have a go for it. The way they build ownership once given responsibilities is a revealing and proud sight for us to witness.
Kids are a powerhouse of unconditional love and pure intent. In order to access that, the connection works like a magic wand for teachers. So, here you know the recipe of CONNECTION in my class and STORYTELLING is my magical ingredient.
By Madhu Bhatia
Educator @ GGIS