Great teachers know how to read children. When I was a principal, I was able to observe many teachers. Teachers who struggled usually had trouble “reading” the kids.
A teacher who can read her students knows when to push and when to pull back. She observes children and knows when it is necessary to help the children through “uncomfortable” tasks. She doesn’t allow children to give up; this teacher moves them forward even when things are difficult and hard. This teacher helps children understand that they are growing and developing and will make mistakes. Mistakes don’t stop us; they help us learn. At the same time, a teacher who can read students knows when children have reached a frustration level that will inhibit learning. This teacher knows she may need to back-up instead of pushing through. Re-teaching may need to occur. The teacher knows that moving forward might only deter growth and development and understanding the material.
A teacher who reads children can anticipate problems with behavior. They create an environment of relationship, respect, and understanding. This teacher looks for triggers. She can hear and observe situations and knows when to intervene and when to let the kids solve the problems. She knows that if she ignores something that is taking place, it might lead to a “blow-up” or to someone getting hurt. She also knows there are times when she can ignore certain behaviors to help students develop behaviorally. For the teacher who reads children, prevention is key! The children know this teacher cares; trust has been established. This doesn’t mean that “incidents” will never occur. But a teacher who reads children, handles the situation with grace and forgiveness and in most cases welcomes the child back into the classroom family. This teacher knows the value of natural consequences and knows the power of discipline over punishment.
A teacher who reads children teaches to the needs of children not to the prescribed programs and initiatives. She makes tweaks where necessary and adjusts instruction to fit the classroom. She doesn’t feel the need to do things exactly the same way as everybody else. This teacher realizes that children are different and unique. If that is true, teaching is also different and unique. She knows that while children share similarities, differences abound. She helps children understand and respect differences. It is the same with teaching, while some things may be similar – there also has to be respect of differences. Teachers who read children understand the value of creativity and passion on the parts of both children and teachers.
Reading is very important. Successful teachers know how to read. They know how to read children.