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May 20, 2009

Understanding Patience

I heard an interesting statement today: 


“If you have an understanding of where a student is at developmentally, there is no need for patience.”


Typically I would consider patience, or the lack thereof, a primary emotion felt among teachers of young learners.  But this statement got me thinking…I wonder if you can understand where a child is at developmentally and still need the grace of patience


At first I was offended.  Teaching early learners is one of the hardest, most beneficial, most rewarding and most difficult ages to teach.  I was appalled to think that this presenter, one of our “own,” would dare to mention that patience is not a virtue most pre-kindergarten teachers hold.  Our world in early childhood revolves around the process of doing and experiencing everything around us.  This requires expectations, planning, the ability to have steady perseverance, and a quiet and diligent demeanor towards those in your care.  


However, I began to think about the actuality behind this complex statement.  I do agree that it is important to understand the development of our learners.  It is important to recognize not only the age appropriate benchmarks of a particular growth area but also to contextualize and familiarize oneself with the lives of their students.  I need to know where my students are coming from, where they are and where they hope to go.  For example, it is crucial that I am aware and understand the fact that one of the families I work with is going through a terrible divorce that is causing some emotional and behavioral challenges at school.  But it is hard for me to separate this understanding with the visceral act of practicing patience with that child.  I feel that the process of understanding in itself takes lots of patience! 


I wonder what our readers think about this interesting conundrum? I have the gift of understanding and patience and I feel it is my job as an educator to share and model both of these life skills. 


It definitely got me thinking.



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