What a topic! The area is just huge. When considering what to write I thought about all the ways I make choices in my daily life of teaching.
I realise as a teacher we are told early on that we make hundreds of decisions every day. True, I teach 4-year-olds! I guide them on their own decisions as well as maintaining mine. But how about choices?
In teaching, we have to make a huge number of choices. The tremendous effort of multi-tasking every minute of the day is an incredible skill. This is how I know that not everyone can teach. We make in- the-minute choices, and decisions, which can hugely affect our professionalism, the children we teach (socially/emotionally and academically), as well our own well being.
For example, in approximately 5 minutes on any given day in a school, these are a selection of choices I may have:
Some children are not distracting one another, do I pull in the positive wording or do I change task, or do we stop for now?
(Insert name) has placed themselves on worried, do I address that now, in learning time (and possibly distract the whole class) or do I continue teaching?
(Insert name) hasn’t brought snack again, do I message parents or raise this with a line manager?
The children aren’t showing interest in this, shall I open a discussion out, sing a song, show a video, or act with puppets?
Admin staff is at my door, I’m in the middle of teaching, do I stop and lose the focus and flow or continue?
I’ve forgotten to do the register (as above)
(Insert name) has a cut on their finger, do they go to the nurse now leaving me to support the others in transition, or can we wait…
We need to transition, do we return to the carpet calmly or try to leave the class in small groups?
Then how about my own wellbeing?
I’m in the middle of a task, do I take a toilet break and risk not getting it done for the deadline (this one happens far too much!)
Working with young children is incredibly rewarding, I can not imagine myself doing anything else. But I realise also that every task needs to be broken into steps, clearly explained and modelled. If I do not make this appropriate choice then a simple action (pack your bags) can turn into a disaster. This is why I see, the longer I teach, the more it is such a refined, complicated, multi-faceted profession. Choices are guided by the needs of the class but also through knowing the children really well. This means a choice made with one class may not pan out in the same way with another class. In fact, a choice made on one day may not be so successful the next! This keeps teaching so exciting and challenging.
Finally, helping young children to make ‘good’ choices is another area of my role. This aspect is so very interesting to me. We always create a common ground of what, as a collective community, we decide is a good choice and otherwise. The children explain what they consider good choices to be (such as kind hands, feet, and words), in order to feel safe. Guiding children in this way fulfils me often as an educator, as I can see when they slip up (as we all do), the look of disappointment in their eyes. Being almost a moral guide, empowering children to make these informed choices to become kinder, more thoughtful citizens is just about the most rewarding aspect of being the teacher of ‘choices’.