Wow! It’s that time of year again…that time when you start to see the big yellow buses driving through the neighborhoods, the air seems to change, and you realize that summer is gone.
This weekend I went to a Hay House Movers & Shakers conference and really had an amazing time! I shared this story there and it was a great reminder for me. It’s a funny story with a beautiful message deep within. I hope you enjoy it!
The beginning of the schoolyear is always a bit rough for teachers because we have to teach our ‘new’ kids all of the ins and outs of the classroom. It always seems like we are talking so much, and just when we think we’ve covered it all, something else pops up!
Several years ago (the first year I taught 1st grade), we had a fire drill on the 3rd day of school. Now, let me give you some background for this story. During fire drills the teachers are expected to get all of the children out of the building quickly, quietly, and safely in a single file line. While the children are outside, they are expected to remain quiet so that we can account for all students, hear if fire engines are coming, and any listen for announcements. Well, the 3rd day of school doesn’t give a teacher much time to really work with a group of 6 year olds on this quiet thing, and when you think about 1100 children having to exit a building and remain silent, it does seem like quite a feat, does it not?
Surprisingly enough, most classes were quiet, even though it was only day 3 in a new school year. Most classes, that is, except for mine! I could barely get the children into a straight line, and their little mouths just didn’t want to close. As we walked further away from the school and into the grass, I finally started to get them to understand that we had to be quiet, except for one little boy, Mickey.
Mickey kept saying, “Mrs. Savini! Mrs. Savini!” Of course, I gave him the evil eye, shushed him, and snapped my wrist to gesture him to get in line and ‘zip it.’ We walked a few steps further and there he was again screaming, “Mrs. Savini! Mrs. Savini!” At this point, I was truly mortified because everyone was looking at my class, and it wasn’t because they were quiet and standing like soldiers. Instead, it was because I had one kid screaming my name. Again, I shushed him, gave the evil eye, and snapped the wrist. The third time he did it all I had to do was evil eye him and snap the wrist and he gave up. He made this funny little look like a cat that just swallowed the canary.
About 10 minutes later we were called back into the building. Of course, as soon as we got into the classroom I called a community meeting and was ready to read them the riot act! I started to notice a faint unpleasant smell at that point. I called the kids to the meeting place and began with, “Boys and girls, when we go outside for a fire drill it is a serious matter.” The smell began to rise. I continued, “There is absolutely NO TALKING during a fire drill.” I now couldn’t help but notice that the pungent odor seemed extremely close. I stopped mid-sentence and asked, “What IS that smell?” Mickey slowly raised his hand and said, “I tried to tell you.” I replied with, “tried to tell me what?” Mickey giggled and said, “Mrs. Savini, I tried to tell you that you were about to step in dog poop!” Of course all of the kids yelled, “Ewwwww!” and started to laugh. At first I thought it was funny, but then as I sat in the chair tears welled up in my eyes. It hit me that I wasn’t listening to Mickey and I wondered how often I hadn’t listened to a child prior to this.
We don’t mean to do it, but we often do shush our kids or put them off because we are ‘busy’ or involved in something else. We get so involved with life that we miss out on the moments. I love this story now, because whenever I think of it, it helps me to remember that I have to stay in the moment and listen to those around me, especially the children. Afterall, you just never know what’s going to come out of their mouths, and if I had taken just 5 seconds to ask Mickey what was wrong, the yelling would have stopped, and I wouldn’t have ruined a new pair of shoes with dog poop!
Today, and always, take time to listen to those you love, especially the little ones. If it’s not a good time, and you really are involved with something else, tell them that, and ask if its an emergency that needs to be discussed right now.
When we take the time to listen to our children it helps them to feel important and teached them that we value their thoughts and opinions. If we teach them that their thoughts and opinions matter today, just imagine what their tomorrow would look like…
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