Monday, January 31, 2011

They Do What I Do

A recent conversation brought back memories of my days as a director of a church weekday program. One day, the 3-year-old class teachers stopped by my office.

"We were playing our pretend game today," they said. (A quick note: In this game the teacher would name something and the kids would pretend to be whatever was named.) "In the game, we said, 'Pretend you are Mr. Scott.'" The teachers' smiles grew wide and I became very worried. What did the preschoolers do as me?

The teachers continued. "One boy stood and placed his hands on his hips. He smiled and said, 'I am so glad to see you today.'" They laughed and I sighed in relief. At least the imitation was something positive.

Since that day, I've been keenly aware of what I say and do when preschoolers are around. That experience continues to remind me that they are always watching and taking in what goes on around them...even if I do not notice it. I try to evaluate what I'm saying and doing--in the classroom, in the hallway, in church, in the neighborhood.

I think, "Is this what I want my kindergartners to do, too?" Am I speaking in ways I want them to speak to me? Do I pay attention when someone is talking? Do I listen to what others say...and respond accordingly? Do I move through the hallways like I want them to move? Do I think about how to solve a problem (and model aloud what I'm doing)? Do I make amends when I do something harmful? Do I forgive when someone harms me? Do I admit when I make a mistake? Do I try again when I fail? Do I enthusiastically attempt things (even if I might fail)?

My role as a teacher is more than planning some fun activities, putting out supplies and resources, guiding thinking and learning, and telling stories and singing songs. In fact, my example, my life, speaks louder than anything I say to children.

I'm taking another look at what I'm doing, especially in the classroom. I'm evaluating what I teach. Not so much in the activities and plans but in the way I "live out" what I teach.


  1. Hi Scott,
    I do exactly the same. I remember the first time a parent came to school and told me that her child pretends to be me at home. It made me very reflective of how I act, the words I use, and the body language I use. I realized that the children are really paying attention and I want to make sure I am too!

  2. what a good thing to be reminded of, thank you. since children's behavior is 95% of what they see/hear its pretty important to set a good example. I know I'm constantly reminding myself to use a nice voice and have a happy face.

    I recently read a book called Listen by Rene Gutteredge where someone is recording private conversations for people around a town and then posting them on the internet. words and actions really are powerful even when we aren't aware of others who are aware of them.

  3. You're right Scott it really does make you think doesn't it? It's kind of freaky when the children mimic something you do or say like ... oh my good golly gosh! That's a shocker which I try hard not to say but it just keeps coming out of my mouth. Sigh!
    Donna :) :)