Improving my Teaching Practice

Tansferring Knowledge: working with adults and with children

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. It has been feeling like my braining is running so fast that my body can’t keep up. I’ve been thinking about observation, having a plan, being flexible, aggression, why we get angry, mindfulness, setting limits, treating adults and children with the same amount of respect, and transferring knowledge from one aspect of my life to the next.

Last week I had an experience where I needed to make a phone call to another adult. Before the call, I had help creating a plan of what I was going to stay (which meant I also had a plan of how I would like the conversation to go). I made the call and stuck to my plan, which wasn’t the best route. Everything worked out but I was left feeling frustrated.

Let’s skip back to April: I got to hear Ruth Anne Hammond speak at the 26th Annual RIE® conference on helping children manage their aggression. One of the reasons children and adults can become angry is when their plan is derailed. That’s exactly what happened to me. I had a plan, I could only see my plan, it didn’t work out and it left me feeling angry.

Yesterday, I spoke to a group of new hires on sensitive observation. One of my favorite bits of information I give them is: when we sit down to observe a child we have to let go of our plan for their play and trust the plan that they have created. So why couldn’t I do this with the adult on the phone? It comes naturally to me with children, so why not adults?

Today, I heard two of my mentor teachers speak on mindfulness. The key points that jumped out at me were: being an active listener to another person, respectfully responding to them and being very intentional about how we respond. That we don’t just do something, we wait, we think, we process and then respond. So why couldn’t I do that on the phone!!!! As you can tell it’s been driving me a little nuts.

I have all of these great little nuggets of information (and people around me) that let me reflect on my trickier experiences in a meaningful way. My biggest take away from the whole situation is: I have to treat adults the same way I treat the children. I know I have read this in one (or many) of Magda Gerber’s books and it has been a statement that I have said a lot this past month. So what does this mean?

It means: truly listening to the adult, letting go of our plans and trusting theirs, setting limits respectfully while still leaving some room for negotiation, acknowledging feelings, accepting feelings and not just doing something but waiting and intentionally responding in the most respectful way.


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