Two years ago I planned to loop up with a group of children (ages 4-12 months) until they turned three. I loved this idea. I loved the fact that I could watch the children over a span of three years and see how they change, develop and form who they are. I thought that it would be so neat to be able to say confidently, “well this is why I do this with David because when he was a baby…..” Well, my dream and my actual self haven’t been matching up this year.
This year the children started out between one and two years old, now some are only a few months away from turning three. I enjoy my job, I take my work very seriously and I reflect deeply on how to improve my care. Looking back at this year, I was a fine teacher, but I wasn’t a teacher I was proud of. Two year olds are all about learning to be independent, discovering how to interact with others and who they are as a social being. They are also excellent social emotional scientist, whose greatest mission is to crack the code for when and what they can or cannot do. I have learned that these types of challenges are extremely tricky for me to stay respectful, be emotionally present and to stay calm during. I have written so much about staying calm while a child tests the limits, even though I know all about the importance of why, I just can’t stay calm.
I came to the decision (with the help of some great people to reflect with) that I just can’t loop up one more time. Looking back at the 2013-2014 school year (when the children were 4-12 months) I remember being a respectful teacher, a teacher I was pleased with, a teacher that I was proud of. I always thought I enjoyed working with two year olds, and I do but in small amounts or with a few children. I know most teachers have “their age group”, a specific age of children that they just get and enjoy being with. Right now, I think mine could be young one year olds or infants. I know it will take time to find “my place” and until I do, I will enjoy the experience and growth that comes with the searching.
Here’s a few things to wonder about: What’s your “age group”? What types of challenges can you handle with ease and come naturally to you? It’s important to know yourself as a teacher, what you can handle and when it might be time to try something else or ask for help. We need to respect children always and with that comes respecting ourselves.