Children are in awe of their Teacher and you as their Teacher have a great deal of influence in your hands. Be very careful of how you use this influence to build up a wonderful rapport. Empathy and Compassion go a long way. Communication is the key.
Meet and greet:Everyone wants to feel special no matter what age we are, welcome the child into your class by name ask them how they are and listen to the reply. If he/she rushes in excited to start their day and see their friends, wait a bit and let them finish their greetings, then make a comment “Hi Joe, it is great to see you this morning” It’s the beginning of his relationship with you.
The child with separation anxiety, hiding behind Mum worried about her day at school. I would approach casually comment on how happy you are that she is here today, and that you can see she needs a bit of time to say goodbye to Mum. I would find her friends and ask them to go and say good morning to her and invite her to do something with them. As the adult stay back and wait a bit. Do not overwhelm her, you will need to be observant of her sensitivity. If this doesn’t work go up and say “it is time for Mummy to leave now, please say goodbye. You will be fine, then come and have a look at what we are doing here.” or take her hand and say “we are going to say goodbye to Mummy now and you are going to be fine and have a wonderful day here with your friends” She will build her trust in you and will be happier to join her class.
I think the key is to be welcoming, matter of fact and sure that she is going to have a great day with you and her friends. Casually check on her feeling throughout the day, make a brief comment about it to her, she will begin to realise that what you say is true she is having a good time! If you need to you can casually mention this to her the next day if she is still feeling anxious. It will take time to make an anxious child secure in a different environment away from home and her parents.Encourage her to feel that this is HER School and she is with HER friends help her build rapport.
The Shy Child, I am sure you have felt shy and overwhelmed by your environment at some point of your life, walking into a party alone where everyone turns to look at you, having to do something you are not sure of..there is a litany of scenarios; remember this feeling when helping a child who is shy, it is very difficult being shy and it takes courage to overcome shyness. First off, be welcoming but not overwhelming, don’t hover over him let him assess the situation in his own time, be casual and suggest something to do “Hi Henry, I am so glad you are here, how about you put your things away and do you think you can help me find a story book for circle?” Giving a shy child something to do takes the focus off, keeps him busy until he feels comfortable with the transition to school from home.
When he goes home, mention to him that you recognise how hard it is for him and that well done for being so brave and you hope he had a good day, tomorrow will be fun too! Building this rapport will be invaluable.
The stressed child, we all are stressed at some point, our frustration grows by the minute and before we know it we are being completely unreasonable and uncooperative and we can’t help it!! If it is hard for an adult, and we can recognise this feeling, imagine how it feels for a child who is tearful, cranky, withdrawn, overwrought, tired etc.and can’t explain why! An observant teacher can spot this immediately and help before things escalate, have a quick word with the adult who brought the child in, if you don’t see them check your message book (it is good to have a message book as you may not be able to see every parent in the morning as you are with the children and parents can write a note for you here, especially if they don’t want the child to hear, email is good if you want confidentiality) at the sign in table..maybe there were issues at home this morning that will enlighten you, and you can address it.
Acknowledge and address, the child had a bad night didn’t sleep, perhaps he needs a cuddle and time in the reading corner. “No breakfast?..come and have a snack” “miss Mummy and Daddy?” “Yes, I miss my Mummy sometimes too, but I know she is fine and I will be too, do you think that could be the same for you”
The child that becomes stressed at some point during the day? feelings get hurt, an activity goes wrong, too tired, not feeling welcome, feeling alone, causing problems and acting inappropriately, your help is needed to guide this child through this rough patch. The child may not be able to voice or understand the strength of his feelings, and can’t manage him on his own. I would offer choices, “you can play with your friends if you think you can be happy together, or you can come here and do this” and offer something for the child to do.
If it is issues with a friend invite them to go to the peace corner and discuss their feelings, as you leave them say ” If you need my help please let me know” give them a chance to voice feeling and make friends independently. Be a mediator if you need to be. Help build mutual respect and rapport.
The child and discipline; Parents often ask how does a Montessori Teacher discipline her/his class. My reply is one shouldn’t need to. I have expectations of the children in my class and in having expectations they rise to meet them. I have very clear boundaries and they develop as the class develops, I have routine and commitment to it, I strongly believe in self discipline, I try to model it and demonstrate that I expect the children to model it too. When I do have occasion to impose discipline I do so with empathy and compassion. I do not believe in “time out”, I fail to see how having a child sit on their own with nothing to do does anything other than foster resentment, fear, helplessness, anger and an unwillingness to develop self discipline. I strongly believe in “choices”. I offer choices to a child in any given situation and expect them to make a choice and stick to it. I offer them my help if they need it. When a child has confidence in you the rapport grows.
It is a path of development in all of us, young and old, to practice self-discipline and independence and a rapport with each other.
Being observant of a child’s needs.
Really observe, listen, acknowledge and address develop a rapport together.
Teacher to Teacher rapport is crucial for your well being, your Schools and your students. A teacher is wise to share her/his insight and/or concerns about a child with a fellow colleague.
Discussion, about a child ,we all know has many levels and we are all professionals and we know how to keep it appropriate. Immediate discussion about how Peter hurt himself in the playground is important, as Peter will get the correct attention and follow up.
Discussion about a child’s growth, improvements, gifts and challenges are, I believe, appropriate between teachers, at meetings, in class casually or officially. A bringing together of ideas, plans of action and implementation strategies are very important.
Equally important is to build School and classroom communication. When teachers are friends, in and out of School and show mutual respect for each other it develops into a happy and fulfilling environment. A wonderful model of rapport for children to follow and emulate.
Teacher to Parent is very important, informal morning chat with a parent about their own child builds security and well being, a feeling of being welcomed and ready to listen to comments or concerns. If there is a need for a more in depth conversation plan a time suitable to you both.
Whether it is a drop off, at a social gathering or at scheduled meeting showing you care and building rapport can only be beneficial.
Any more thoughts?