Connecting with the children we teach everyday means everything. If we can’t connect we don’t connect. About 95% of our efforts to connect involve us talking and them listening. While our intentions our good, I think sometimes we talk too much. I think sometimes we need to try some of the strategies above that don’t require uttering a word. I think it’s at least worth a try.
With Your Eyes
Children know what we are thinking just by looking into our eyes. They have craved eye contact ever since they were infants and now they have become experts. The other day I was attempting to take a nap on the couch but my son was having none of it. What he said next was unintentionally brilliant (he is only 3). He said, “Open your eyes so I can see you.” He had it backwards, but there was a hidden meaning there. If we don’t have our eyes open, if we are not truly looking at our students, they know it. And they dismiss us right away. On the other hand, I believe it is important that when we do make eye contact, we do so with happiness in our eyes and a gentleness in our soul. Kids will know, and they will feel it.
If I could give you one thing in life, I would give you the ability to see yourself the ability to see yourself through my eyes. Only then would you realize how special you are to me.
With Your Proximity
There are varying theories about personal space and how close we should get to students. I am of the belief that students, children, want to be close but they don’t always know how and neither do we. It is important that we show them that we are comfortable in their presence so that they can begin to feel comfortable in ours. If they see us start to lean in, then they will do the same, literally and figuratively. They will trust us more and they will start to feel like they can connect with us. And isn’t that what it is all about?
Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh?" he whispered.
"Nothing" said Piglet, taking Pooh's had.
"I just wanted to be sure of you."
With Your Presence
Finally, I believe that one of the most powerful ways we can connect with students is by giving them a time and a place to just be. No words necessary. No lectures or advice. Sometimes kids just need the security and comfort that our quiet presence can bring them. They often don’t have it at home. They almost never have it at school. And yet it is sometimes the one thing that can help get them where they need to be. Sometimes a quiet place, with someone who makes them feels safe is all they need. We can provide this.
Sometimes we need someone to simply be there. Not to fix anything, or do anything in particular. But just to let us feel we are cared for and supported.
when you are struggling
for the right words to say.
Remember, you may not need any at all.
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