A kindergarten teacher friend was chastised by an administrator because a couple of her kindergarten students were talking about Christmas rather than whatever their task was at that given moment. This was in the week before Christmas. I can't put into words how absurd and surreal this feels.
My frustration with this is immense. I am left with the sense that either this administrator does not have an understanding of five-year-olds and/or does not respect them as people. Is the expectation that students can only discuss topics of their choice during recess and lunch? Is that how human beings function?
We began our school year with the StrengthsFinder. The idea is to recognize and build on the strengths of our staff. Every teacher, instructional assistant, and administrator took the survey and identified their top five strengths. We charted those across teams and school-wide. We found similarities and areas we lacked as a staff. We talked about ways to use our strengths to grow individually and as teams and as a school.
We do just the opposite with kids. From stamping out their natural excitement about things, including Christmas, to seeing them only as test scores on whatever sort of assessment we are using at that time, we do not recognize or build on their strengths. Why on earth do we do one thing for adults and exactly the opposite for children? Do we truly think that they are a completely different species and need completely different treatment?
Children are people. They are younger than the rest of us but still people. We need to put ourselves in their shoes.