I know Jesus was admired as a great teacher, but I wonder if he ever taught preschool. That’s where his “love your neighbor as yourself” and “turn the other cheek” would be put to the test. I wish I could be a fly on the wall when he told little Matthew:
“Matthew, you shouldn’t be playing with that in your hand during music class. Bring it to me, please.”
“Matthew, please bring that over to me.”
“Matthew, I’ve asked you two times now. I want you bring that to me. Right now.”
“Mateo, ven aqui! No, you don’t speak Spanish? I was just wondering, since I’ve asked you three times in your mother tongue of English. Now once more, bring that to me.”
“Yoo hoo! I’m over here!”
You get the idea. Later in the class Matthew twirled around on his little carpet square while others were executing the intricate dance figures. Then he got on someone else’s carpet square who pushed him off and Matthew pushed back and I intervened and separated them and then Matthew pushed again and I believe that it was at this moment that I became a lapsed Christian and felt my blood pressure rise as I firmly escorted Matthew out the door.
In my workshops, I always tell teachers that “behavior is the language of children” and our job is to translate. The behavior was clearly saying either “I can’t do what you’re asking” or “ I could do it but I don’t want to” or “It’s much more fun to twirl around by myself and bump into people” or “I am an alien from another planet” or “I’m only five years old! Cut me some slack! I have no idea what’s going on inside my little body and mind!” But indeed it is my job to:
1) Stop the behavior so the class can proceed harmoniously and the other children can enjoy the experience.
2) Give clear consequences as to what’s acceptable or not.
3) Talk it over with the child and another teacher or administrator.
4) Try to sincerely figure out what’s going on to help that child to participate successfully.
5) Love that child. But love comes best from understanding and understanding is hard work. Whether a kid is five or fifty-five.
All this is so easy to say and so hard to do. I suspect Jesus would have been a good preschool teacher, but I also bet he would have gotten frustrated and upset a few times. It makes me feel better to think that. On to tomorrow’s class.