A sweet, short story from teaching today:
I happen to find all of my kindergarten and first grade students absolutely adorable. However, one class in particular just seems to be filled with old, kind souls, existing in the bodies of these beautiful little 6 and 7-year-olds. At this age, I begin all of my music classes by singing the “Hello Song” (given to me by a wonderful LA Phil colleague) during which the students sing a few rounds of “Hello everybody, how do you do?” followed by “Hola todos, como estan?” At this point, all of the students who wish to share, keep their hands up and let me know, in English or Spanish, how they’re doing today.
Almost all children in general are excited at the prospect of sharing, however some students cannot contain their energy as easily (!!!), and they quickly yell out over other students, or they share something that has nothing to do with how they were feeling in that particular moment. In this class, I had several of those students, so by the time I got to the last several students, my patience was not nearly as high as it was at the beginning. It just so happened that one of the sweetest boys was one of my last students to share. This child in particular, Abraham, never acts out, but today wanted to talk about food instead of how he was doing. When I responded, instead of having patience, I was dismissive (shame on me) and quickly asked him to tell me how he was feeling. He, without stalling, said “Oh! Okay – I’m feeling great!” I felt bad, but then realized that he didn’t linger on my frustration.
As the class was nearing an end I kept seeing his little hand popping up while we were singing something else, so I made a note to check in on him at the end of class. Right before our “Good-bye Song” I asked him “Abraham, what’s going on?” And he said “Well, Ms. Emily, I just really wanted to apologize for talking about food during the ‘Hello Song.’ I don’t know why I was talking about it, and I wanted to tell you that I am really sorry!” It absolutely melted my heart, and even more so because he said the whole thing with a wonderful smile on his face.
When dealing with so many students on a daily basis, it is easy to be dismissive of something that a child does (or you do!) because we never know how those children are spoken to at home. I reassured him time again and again that it was completely fine, and that he should not worry, but I learned that I must remember that every student has a different story, and…that children always remember.
It’s amazing what we can learn from children. I was just lucky that I got to learn this lesson with a student who had such a forgiving, patient soul. Thank you, Abraham 🙂