Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thank You Little Prince

A brilliant, thoughtful, wise colleague of mine has often said that one of the roles of a first grade teacher is to tame the children. The vision in my head of taming is one that makes me somewhat uncomfortable when I think of children. So I've turned to the definition of tame from The Little Prince: "It means to establish ties." - from chapter 21. That makes perfect sense to me as a teacher.

I've got a little friend this year who is making me question this. He was born in the U.S. and lived here until just over a year ago, just before he turned six. For reasons I don't fully understand he (and his brothers) were sent to eastern Africa to live with their grandparents. Their mother relocated to our area and my little one returned to the U.S. Technically, by age, he should be in second grade but he just barely makes the cutoff and he is now in first grade (a more appropriate place for him). This is his first experience with school. He's been in day care before but never in school.

Academically he's actually doing pretty well. He's not yet at grade level in reading and writing but he is making quick progress in both. In math he's really capable. Honestly I'm quite impressed by him academically.

The taming issue comes in because he does not know how (or is unable) to behave the way one is expected to do in school. I don't think I'm overly strict about this but I do expect that he have some control of his body and his voice. I do feel as though I am trying to tame this child.

The struggle I'm facing is how to 'tame' this child without squelching him. He's got so much potential and I don't want to turn him into a compliant dullard (not that I think that's actually possible). Am I worrying over nothing? Am I right to be concerned? If so, how do I help this student without losing my mind?

1 comment:

blossomteacher said...

You are trying to tame him...without some self control, he'll never form those important ties and bonds to others! So often, we have to teach a child how to channel their personality into something positive...going from being bossy to being a leader. From being ADD or OCD to being helpful around the classroom. Or just flat out learning when and how to turn on and off those over-exuberant behaviors! Stay strong, keep those expectations high, and most of all, let him KNOW why you are so "hard" on him...because you know there is greatness inside just want it to have the opportunity to come out and shine!