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When Did You Have It Wrong?

By Aviva Dunsiger

This week, my teaching partner, Paula, had to take off 1 1/2 days to get some dental work done. We were fortunate to get a supply who has been in our class before, knows the kids, and even lives in the area, so has connections with many of the children and their families.

One of our students was having a difficult time on Friday morning. She was always looking for help from the supply, and since she knows her from home, she continued to refer to her by her first name, even though we discussed the need to address her differently at school. When I reminded her again about this, and then she looked at me and did the opposite, I will admit that I was seeing misbehaviour in her actions. This child is usually quite independent, and she seemed so very dependent on Friday. Was this to get more support from the supply? Was I witnessing manipulation at play?

I really thought that I saw this child's behaviour for what it was ... until the very end of the day, when we reflected on our time at school. I mentioned to the class that I was going to share this video message with Mrs. Crockett, and I knew that she would love to hear about some of their highlights. As I was talking to the class, this students kept tapping my leg and saying my name. Why? I then made a comment about "quiet hands," and that I promised to get to everybody. Since she then stopped tapping me, I picked her first. She had a question to ask: "Will Mrs. Crockett be back at the end of the day?" What?! Here I was all day long viewing this child's behaviour at misbehaviour, but listening to her question, seeing her sad eyes, and almost feeling her begging me to say that normal would resume and Paula would be back before 3:30, I wanted to burst into tears. I think that I got it wrong. Stress behaviour was at play, and I misinterpreted everything.

Sometimes we think we know. Sometimes we're sure we know. And sometimes we get it wrong. On Friday, I got it wrong, and next week, I will try to do better. Have you ever had a similar experience? What helped you reframe the behaviour? I'm reminded that no matter what we might have learned about Self-Reg, there is always more to learn.

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