The here and now educator
I feel that often as educators we are often looking into the future too much... planning the direction, needing to know where we are going, rather than focussing on where we are now... Sure, as educators we do need to know where we are going, so that we can prepare ourselves for the needs of the children... its like looking for the best route, or the weather forecast to be able to make the best decisions about what clothes to wear and what equipment is need to deal with the terrain. BUT equally important is to know the now... to know IF the children/learners are prepared or have the ability to deal with the obstacles of that terrain, or whether another route, or practice is needed before that journey can begin.
So things to think about to become a here and now teacher...
Pay attention - be aware of your own state of sensitivity so that you are able to deal with the emotions of children
Take a step back and observe. Make informed decision from your observations to interact optimally.
Flexibility - dare to make mistakes and try things in a new way.
Switch of "auto-pilot" and take the time to observe what is really happening with the child/ren
Active listening - with your ears, eyes, heart and mind to what the child/ren are actually communicating
Preparation - being a step ahead (not looking to the future, but being prepared to meet the needs of the children). This can also help you regulate your own emotions and be able to better meet the needs of the child/ren
Self-awareness - be aware of your own trigger point, what sets you off, and how can you avoid that.
Plan - take the time to plan some strategies as to how you manage stressful and challenging situations, especially those that trigger you.
be present... see, hear and feel the child/ren. Make a conscious decision to be present
slow down - look closely
It is important to consider that to become a hear-and-now educator we need to be aware of ourselves, and how our own vulnerability can impact the children and the play and learning space.
It is not simply about the children.
it is always and interaction between adults and children - and our emotions, our prejudices, our trigger points etc all will impact each other. Our adult existence in the same space as children has power, no matter how we try to be as democratic in our practice. I think by being aware of this power and using it to enable and empower children we are then harnessing it for a greater good - but it can very easily be abused or misused or even taken too lightly - and therefore the power balance will always lean heavily in favour of the adult with little space for the child to fully exert their own.
Over the years I have often heard the phrase "we learn with the children"
and I feel that this phrase has been misinterpreted - it does not give you as an educator a free pass to learn a subject at the exact same time with the children... but we do not need to know everything and be the expert "filling" the child with facts either... its a like a parallel learning together... our educator learning journey line is always a few steps ahead... so that we are able to understand the terrain the children are about to navigate and can ensure they have the right tools to maximise their experience... or to know that the children are not yet prepared for this path and that the risk for failure would have too much of a negative impact on the learners... Also i think that learning takes a lot of energy... and if the educator is learning at the exact same time as the child then there is not always enough energy to be a here and now educator.
This does not mean we cannot share new wonders together, or share new discoveries together. Life is far too amazing and complex to always be a step ahead... that is where the flexibility comes in. We can't simply do things one way... we cannot be prepared all the time, but to the best of our ability. And the more we are here and now educators the better chance we have of being suitably prepared. As we have an understanding of ourselves and the children... and that enables us to meet whatever life throws at us with more confidence.