A passionate heart-centred teacher is one you have to search for when you enter a room. They are not a dominant force, and you certainly don’t hear their voices rising about the children’s hum of activity. Imagine if all teachers of young children had this same way about them? Children could grow and learn in a relaxed, peaceful environment that gave them time to think and be.
Role model always!
As heart centred teachers we always model the same calm tone that we expect of the children.
We know that endless teacher talking does nothing to enhance the atmosphere of the child's learning. In heart centred teaching, the teacher is not at the centre, or in the lead - these are always the child’s position.
We feel our sector has gotten a little lost here.
So many ECE teachers are expected to be 'interacting' with children at all times and this often plays out as loud adult voices filling a space, nattering away at children all the time.
We know this is done with good intentions, but if there were more pauses, and more observation in a setting, the adults would realise that the children are fine as they are.
The environment itself should call to the child, providing motives for activity, and so endless teacher words are not needed. The children learn through their hands and their own engagement, not by listening to words and being prompted all the time by an adult, no matter how well meaning they are.
When we take our lead from the child we wait for them to come to us.
Give a little, then fade away!
We only do for them as much as necessary, never more. We give a little, then fade and observe.
We give time without adults. There is no hurry, no frantic pace of chatter, no running dialogue that interferes with the child’s thinking and processing time.
"Any unnecessary help is a hindrance" - Maria Montessori
Within our sector, ‘busy’ is what is aspired to - for both adults and children it seems.
For some reason, "good" teaching gets equated with a full 'to do' and a 'have done' list.
As heart-centred teachers, sometimes we couldn't feel more out of the norm. Apart from the fact that we strive for more than ‘good’, we see great teaching as being able to maintain a peaceful presence, in being able to stand back, and to let the child take the driver’s seat.
Less is more
An ECE setting should not be a place of stress for children or adults. Incessant chatter creates stress for all. We truly believe that less is more.
Choosing our words so those said have purpose brings far more authenticity to a relationship. Carefully chosen words then have an impact, and do not just take their place in constant background noise.
Times of calm, quiet and even small moments of silence are so important for children to experience within their daily rhythms and yet for many, this won’t be happening.
Checking in does not mean interfering
Relationships are not just built and maintained through talking and listening.
We know we can ‘check in’ with a child, or help them refuel in other ways - a look, a smile, touch, thumbs up, a wink. We need many tools in our tool box to be a connected heart centred teacher!
If we’re not talking all day, what are we doing? Observing, being present, setting the tone. We know that how we are in the environment impacts on the children far more than what we do.
They will ‘catch’ our ways and imitate them.
We want them to absorb the calm and kind tone, the slow gentle movements, the non hurried pace and the peace this all brings.
Just as we want to keep the kindness and the heart in teaching, we want to keep the sense of joy, and this can only happen in an environment we actually want to spend time in!
(This article was adapted from a previously published blog post 'The heart of teaching - believing in those whom we are teaching')