Last week, I asked my 6 year-old to get something from the car. I knew the item had fallen under the seats, so I added the instruction, “Make sure you look all over!”
She came back empty-handed, telling me it wasn’t there. Of course, with mom omnipotence (momnipotence?), I knew that item was indeed in the car and that she had simply not looked thoroughly enough.
Anyhow, I was ready to heave my usual sigh and go look for it myself when it occurred to me that “look all over” is a very vague and abstract concept for a 6 year-old. My mind jumped to an old-school Sesame Street episode featuring Grover we had recently watched:
I referenced Grover’s silly song about prepositions, telling her, “Try checking one more time, only this time, be sure to be like Grover and look ‘Around…over…under…and through’ all the seats.”
Though she did not end up finding the object during her second search either, she nevertheless took much longer and was clearly far more thorough (in the end I discovered it had fallen down into a remote and camouflaged corner).
As I reflected on that small teaching opportunity, I realized how often I take for granted what I think my kids ought to be able to do, yielding to frustration rather than teaching. In my classroom, I generally made it a point to help my students explicitly identify, “what does _____ look/sound/feel like” (ie, what does working respectfully in pairs look/sound/feel like?).
Yet there were still moments when I felt frustrated by shortcomings I felt my fifth graders should just know by now (penmanship, writing in complete sentences, group work skills). The reality was usually that they simply needed more modeling, more support, more patience.
I hope this #TeacherMom moment will help me better recognize those learning opportunities with my own children and my future students.
featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto