One of the pitfalls of being a teacher or any kind of educator is forgetting that the humans we’re teaching are still kids.
There are so many reasons that happens. All the pressure that is brought on teachers and administrators to demand more of our students, to push them, and often pull them, to improvement and success. The danger of looking of students as a data point that must be moved up levels. The emphasis on test scores.
Then there’s just running a classroom. When you have 24 kids in front of you, it’s not easy to judge on the fly what is just a minor behavior and what is something that needs to be addressed as a discipline issue. But not every issue has equal weight or needs the same level of response.
Someone who sees people as they are becomes “kind-hearted as a grandmother”.
This is where I stop myself. I try to look at the situation. Is this just a kid acting like a kid? Is the behavior, while distracting, perfectly normal for a person of this age? Quite often the answer is yes.
Of course, I address it! But instead of it being in a confrontational way, I don’t escalate. I stop the behavior, and if needed, we dialogue about why it’s not right for the classroom. Most of the time a quick admonition is all that is needed to end the issue, usually never to see it again.
One of my favorite lines in the Tao te Ching is that someone who sees people as they are becomes “kind-hearted as a grandmother”. This is a beautiful image, and so resonant with the kind of tolerance and kindness that really makes kids feel like they want to be in the classroom, with a teacher who is trying to understand them even while pushing them to levels they did not know they could reach.