Sometimes something happens, and however hard you try, it isn’t possible to still function and to go about your everyday life due to your emotions running so high.
This week for my family and me has been one of those times. Our beloved dog who had a stroke in November and had then made an almost complete recovery, died this week. Over the last few weeks, she was going downhill rapidly. This week we were unable to tempt her to eat at all, and we knew that her time was running out. On Wednesday, we found that she had huge internal tumours, and we had to make such a hard decision to let the vet put her to sleep. It was a terrible decision and so hard to cope with. In reality, she was probably only hours away. It was peaceful, and she was an old girl, but she had been at the centre of our family for twelve years. We were all distraught.
I had to cancel two lessons afterwards as my family and I needed time together to process what had happened. The pupils’ parents were understanding; they understood that I am not just a teacher but a person – a person with feelings.
We need to consider that behind every person, old or young, is just that – a person. A person with emotions and feelings and those feelings can affect their ability to learn, function or cope with life.
The most important factor in my teaching is the nurturing and holistic element of treating the child as a person, not just a container to be filled with knowledge.
Nurturing and compassion are the most important things, especially when I first meet a scared child in the grips of the fight, flight and freeze response. Scared vulnerable neurodiverse children who are upset about their learning and attending school and constantly feeling different.
The first sessions we have are always about bringing down their anxiety and establishing a level of trust. Trust in me that I will help them, trust that what we are doing is all right even if it is different from how they have been taught at school. It doesn’t stop there. Me being in tune with their emotions throughout each lesson and from week to week is crucial.
If anyone’s emotional needs are out of kilter, they simply cannot learn, so it is up to educators like myself to help, and that is just what I do every day.