Friday was like any other Friday. My students were excited about starting their weekend and I was exhausted from another week of giving it my all in the classroom. My patience was wearing thin around 9:30 am that morning and I knew that counting to 10 in my head, taking deep cleansing breaths, and drinking copious amounts of coffee were about the only strategies I had to get me through the day.
To make matters worse, one of my students started asking right from the moment we started our first class of the day, “How much more time until we go home?”.
Count to ten… deep cleansing breath… sip some coffee…
Her question persisted throughout the day in fifteen to twenty minute intervals and to say that I was getting annoyed by hearing it and having to answer it is a bit of an understatement. I showed her our classroom timetable and showed her where the hands on the clock would be when it was time for her to go home. But no matter what I did or what I said, the same question kept coming at me. “How much more time until we go home?”
Count to ten… deep cleansing breath… gulp some coffee…
By 3:20 pm, my class and I were DONE! There was no significant learning or teaching to be had for the last twenty minutes of the day. So, I put on some GoNoodle videos to get my students moving around and to have them focussed and active for the last little bit of the day.
But my little question asker was having none of it. She continued to come to my desk to ask me how much time was left before the end of the day.
It took all my strength to not answer her back with an exasperated tone. When I was finally able to tell her that there was only 5 minutes left before she got to go home, a HUGE smile lit up her face.
“I am excited that school is almost finished because I get to see my dad tonight,” she told me. “I haven’t seen him all week and I really miss him.”
Count to ten… deep cleansing breath… grab a tissue… I wanted to cry.
My little student had spent her entire day counting down the hours and minutes before getting to see her dad. She was using me as her personal countdown to happiness and I had missed the entire beauty of the situation. I was stunned. I felt ashamed for my lack of patience because I had forgotten that my students bring so much more to my classroom than than their academic abilities. Sometimes, like what happened to me on Friday, they even teach us a lesson.
What have I learnt from this? I have learnt to never underestimate a question asked a million and one times by a student – particularly ones that are redundant and seem to have nothing to do with what is going on in our classrooms at a specific time. Sometimes, those questions have far more importance to our students than we give them credit for.
I have learnt that my students have more important things going on in their lives than what my academic lessons provide them.
Most importantly, I have learnt to never underestimate the POWER of a child’s question.
Have a good day!