Friday, August 12, 2011

Being a Friend & What if kindness is the only rule?

Ever since we started thinking about kindness more, from reading ELP's  blog and considering what this meant in terms of our Social Competency view of our world here at Greerton, we have been writing more about this for our children and families. We realised how important 'kindness' was in the way our whole learning and teaching culture played out. As teachers we wanted to model this and it has been so fabulous to see this happening. As with research journeys we are so often surprised and we were not expecting to see the way leadership was enhanced. We think children have a real sense of what is just and fair and when they are immersed in a culture of fairness, in its many shapes and forms, they will promote this way of being to each other. The learning stories we have written show this time and again.

Here is the learning story in an easy to read format!

What if kindness is the only rule?

Ash, isn’t it just as well we don’t have locked doors! Our children know they own this place, just as much as the adults and that we trust you! Otherwise you couldn’t have got those special things for James from the sleep room! This is just one more example of how thoughtful you are and how creatively you approach problems. I wonder, as this disposition increases over time and you use it in other contexts, if this means you will be a thoughtful, engaging leader who knows his team well and  ensures they are all able to stretch their talents. I certainly saw an example of this today!

Ash, you stunned me today and I felt compelled to write this story down because, for so many reasons, these are the ones worth telling!

I was sitting on the couch cuddling James, who was very sad because he had just fallen over and hurt himself. Do you know Ash, nothing that I was doing was helping. The tears streamed down his face and sobs shook his whole body. I looked around to see where his special key teacher was because I knew I didn’t know James well enough to help in this kind of crisis and thought Jo would make him feel better, faster. And then, Ash you were there! You had sized up the whole situation, had gone into the sleep room, collected James’ dummy and loved blanket and in the twinkling of an eye you were offering these to him. He looked up, breathed a deep, deep hick-up-y sigh and accepted your gift. Immediately he felt better, his breathing slowed and he relaxed. You waited around a little bit to check all was well and then off you went about your own plans, like a humble hero fading back into a crowd. Your plans, by the way, are so very often full of grit as you put your whole effort and attention into solving the problems you set yourself, so taking time out to help a friend is a strong measure of how much you value making sure your friends feel ok.

What  more did I learn about you today Ash?

Do you know Ash, we write many learning stories here at Greerton about things the teachers feel are important. We call it finding the magic because we want these stories to build a picture for  you and your whanau, of the kind of learner you are. We want you to know, now and just as importantly into the future, that the learning goals you set yourself, the skills you practice and the dispositions that drive your desire to keep going, even when the learning is hard, began very early in your life. We think that these stories are very powerful as you revisit them and retell them as time goes on. Stories like the way you imaginatively solved a tricky problem, or pushed yourself to the edge of your skill levels through being brave, persistent, creative and imaginative. Your folder is full of these exploits and these ways of learning. Teachers love this kind of writing but just as importantly, we want to tell the heart stopping stories of kindness, thoughtfulness and care. This is what I saw today. Out of nowhere, Ash you rescued your friend and me! You stopped what you were doing because you saw a friend in need. These are the moments that matter in life and when people like you Ash, react to someone’s distress, in this way, the world is a kinder place.

It made me think of a special author called Vivien Gussin Paley who wrote a book called The Kindness of Children. She couldn’t see how people could continue to have fun when there was someone amongst them who was sad and Ash, neither could you! I’m so glad that our assessment of your learning is not limited to skills alone. Our vision here at Greerton is to tell and reflect on the stories that make a difference to learning in its fullest sense. That’s how we grow our community of learners and teachers.

Greerton Early Childhood Centre
Lorraine Sands
March 2011


Lynnette said...

Lorraine, this story brought me to tears. I was the key teacher for both of the boys in your story when they first came to our centre as infants and as you described this situation I was reminded of their personalities as babies. This is what we hope to see as children grow and leave our infant and toddler centre- that they have huge empathy and kindness for each other and can show the leadership that will make the difference to the lives of others. These were tears of joy for me to see the love and very real social connection that can exist between such busy, active learners.

Julie said...

Great reading, the only thing I wish to comment on is, I wonder how the children would respond to, "we all know each other here, and so we care for one and other." Instead of we are all friends here, I mention this because I had a parent comment to me after I had used the friend statement that master four year old said at the dinner table but I'm not friends with everyone Mum. Interesting comment I thought and worth considering.