The Practice of Teaching.
“Love is at the root of everything. All learning. All parenting. All relationships. Love, or the lack of it.”
In late August, I returned to work. I teach two-year-olds. I wish I could report that I entered my sweet preschool with the pep of a high school cheerleader, but I can’t. Apprehensive about giving up my summer freedom, I felt the restriction of endless meetings and tasks. The OMG feeling of preparing a classroom to welcome 21 fresh new faces in a 5 day period. And yet, when the time arrived, my heart opened effortlessly. I was instantly aware of the honor and privilege assigned to me. My true center and calling awakened once again. Knitting together my tender teacher heart, and the integrity I have for the importance of early childhood education, I realized I was at home. No matter what else happens in life, I stand in the clarity of doing what I love, and what I believe is best for young children. Wholeheartedly.
How Mr. Rogers Informed My Teaching:
In 1973, PBS was our only television channel. My mother never called it screen time. Rather, it was a moment in my day where I was entertained by a real person, not a cartoon character, which is an important distinction. This was a practical decision so my mom could do her housework. Not a choice, nor a reward. Simply a way for her to get the kitchen floor mopped. A moment of relief for both of us.
We lived in rural New Hampshire on an endless corduroy dirt road with nothing around for miles, Mr. Rogers was in many ways my first teacher. He was good company to a quiet sensitive child, which made my foundational years better.
In today’s super scheduled and über electronic way of living, it is possible we have forgotten how to slow down? How to share a friendly conversation with a neighbor, or spend a few moments in the land of make-believe. My school director wrote about Mr. Rogers in her fall newsletter. She stated that he was before his time, or perhaps ageless. Bravely, he spoke up for children and a proper childhood.
The list she created that informs the quality of my teaching, everyday:
- He moved slowly.
- He was incredibly consistent.
- He would ask questions and wait.
- He would listen, I mean really listen to what people were saying.
- He told all of us that we mattered and we were loved just the way we were.
- He believed in talking about feelings and sharing moments of vulnerability.
- He made time for art, exploration, and the land of make believe.
- He explained what was happening using simple and careful words.
- And he smiled, a lot.
September is bittersweet. Back to school means the end of the long days of summer. The beginning of a new school year brings fresh hope. Our children, our communities, and our world need more of that: presence, love, and hope.
Happy September Everyone.