“It’s not fair,” she shouted. “It’s not fair,” he retorted. All around me a daily recurrence of this theme. Teachers, parents and those whose lives interface with kids are not surprised. It’s part of the language of children, deafening and intolerant at times. What to do is the quandary adults face; when to intervene, when to let it go, hoping it gets worked out by the warring parties. But when it doesn’t then we (teacher, parent, adult) get to referee and sometimes we’re just so on our game and other times we flounder, wishing we had taken another course of action. I reflect, wondering, (now that I also am substitute teacher in the Early Childhood classrooms), (and spending time with my grandkids), how to approach this concophony of noise; because inevitably it occurs when a group of children, determined, self-reliant and self-assured in the righteousness of their cause work through their journey of taking turns, waiting and sharing. “The toy was mine. I was using that first. It’s not fair because it’s my turn.” “I had that shovel first. You had that pail for such a long time. That’s not fair it’s my turn.” “You used the iPad for a long time. You’re taking too long. That’s not fair, it’s my turn.” “I’ve waited to check out that book. You can’t have it again. That’s not fair it’s my turn.” And on and on. You fill in the blanks. Sometimes pushing and shoving evolves. At times there are tears of frustration before any chance of negotiations. And as the year progresses and guidelines have been established, the hope is that independent conflict resolution prevails. That’s where we come in. We the adult charged with the mission of creating harmony in the classroom, supporting and respecting each child’s needs and concerns. I have learned to lean into the successes, to rely on them when mistakes keep popping up. I have learned that each child has his/her own version of what happened and with young children, they fiercely hang on to their truth. They have taught me not to take sides, but to help them determine what would be a fair outcome. They have taught me that I will always need to learn more because “fairness” is so important to them. Over the years, because of them, I have learnt not to discount their feelings or concerns. That “fairness” that can seemingly grate over minor issues, helps develop children who become passionate and compassionate young people.
As I continue to reflect, fortunate to continue having time in a classroom, I get to practice what I am learning, with children sharing who they are with me.
In my last few years as a classroom teacher I discovered the incredible value of blogging. I see it as a powerful tool to reflect on my teaching practices and learning. Even now, from this vantage point, I continue to reflect and share my thoughts, musings and ideas.