Ava’s Song 7
their daughter from the Preschool Beauty Salon. The director was walk-
ing down the hall when she heard the wailing. But she didn’t cry at the
sight. She laughed! Now the kids were really confused.
Tunnel vision is not a good idea—really not a good idea. But chil-
dren are too valuable to be the objects of multitasking. So where is the
balance? I have learned a few tricks of the trade over the years. If I am
the sole teacher in the room, I never sit on the floor if I cannot see the
whole group. Someone needs to have a constant view of the classroom
as a whole. When I am team teaching, we use a tool I call “One Up, One
Down.” This simply means one person can be one-on-one with a child
while the other has the responsibility of viewing the group as a whole.
But when I am alone, I sit in a chair with a child who needs me, so that I
can be eye-to-eye with the child yet still see the whole room.
There are times when a child needs to be the sole owner of your at-
tention. This child has something important to tell you—something so
important that you need to stop multitasking and give him or her your
attention, while remaining aware of the whole group. How you know the
difference is determined by your awareness of the child’s needs. In fact,
you will see a common thread on every page of this book as you read.
This thread is relationship. How well you know the individual needs,
preferences, talents, and abilities of the children in your class will deter-
mine how effective you are as an educator. When you know the tenden-
cies of the children you work with, you will know if a child really needs
your attention or is just trying to get help in finding the missing puzzle
piece. Even if the latter is the case, taking a moment to look a child in the
eye and give him or her your undivided attention will not take long—
thirty seconds, tops. That thirty-second moment may be the only time
an adult listens to that child the whole day. When I first started teaching,
I only made about six cents every thirty seconds. Six cents. It was only
six cents for me, but to the child it was priceless.
One quick way to determine if you are multitasking with children
is to notice where your eyes are. When a child is talking to you, are you
looking at him or checking in the teacher cabinet for a colored marker?
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