Big Feelings

Problem: A toy continues to be a distraction for a child  in a first grade classroom after 1. A reminder that the toy should not be out 2. a warning to put it away or I will need to take it away.

Action taken: Toy taken away to be returned the following day.

Next:  The student is beginning to have a meltdown due to having the toy taken away. This is disrupting the class. 

Student Needs: Reassurance, understanding, and encouragement to navigate his feelings about the situation.

My difficulties: Finding the time  to talk with him when 19 other children are needing direction and guidance. Keeping my own patience level so that I can talk in a kind but firm manner.

Words shared: I understand you might be worried but your toy is not gone forever. You will get it back. It was not taken away because I don’t want you to have the toy but because it was a distraction from what we were doing. You had a choice to put it away and next time I know you can make a better choice. 

It is okay to feel angry or sad. I will give you time to sit quietly, and then we will move on so we can continue with building a good day. We have things to look forward to on our schedule. I know you can keep working hard today,

Desired outcome: For the student to have ownership, and a feeling of control  in the situation. For the student to hear that all feelings are okay. And finally some movement/motion to the next thing and noticing that he is capable of moving through tough feelings. 

Actual outcome: It took longer than I would have liked for him to return to participating. He struggled with focusing for the next half hour until school was over, but he was not causing a disruption in the class and he was managing his emotions.

As we were cleaning up to go home he came over and shyly told me several times that he loved me. We made a positive connection, and I was so very glad I was able to find the time to talk to him, with understanding and kindness as the guide.

The other outcome: I am physically and emotionally tired at the end of the day. This was the process with one student at one point in the day. There are a lot of needs to be met, deep breaths taken, and reminders to myself that the goal is to have a good day together. 

This was a moment that sticks in my mind due to his warm heart at the end of the day. 

There are so many moments with students that don’t end with I love you and that I don’t find the time or patience to handle at my best. For those moments I look back and see how I could have done better. Everyday I substitute teach I am reminded of how hard teachers, and students, are working moment by moment, day by day to learn and grow together.

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