6 Chapter 1
some personal attention. It was not her normal behavior to avoid sleep.
Some children keep interrupting in order to avoid napping. That was not
the case in this situation. She just needed some special TLC. When I met
her needs, she felt comforted and able to sleep.
When you are accessible, your attention and awareness are focused
on the children. They must be your first priority—not only in theory, but
in action. It is very easy to get caught up in routines and daily activities.
There are ever-increasing demands on a teacher’s time, and it is easy to
get lost in the task rather than be aware of the moment. Multitasking
becomes a matter of survival. We must multitask: even when we are
talking with a small group of children, we need to be aware of the rest of
the children in the room.
I remember the results of one tunnel vision moment I experienced.
I was sitting with a child who was having an emotional moment because
his friend wouldn’t play with him. He was distraught as the friend went
off to a different activity that was not what he wanted to do at that mo-
ment. So he felt abandoned and betrayed. While I was helping him work
through his feelings, a group of girls decided to play beauty shop with a
pair of art scissors. Now, I like scissors that work well on paper; I think
it eliminates some of the frustration of learning to cut. There is nothing
worse then trying to cut paper with dull scissors that don’t work. Little
hands are just learning to cut, so the scissors need to work well. But if
scissors are sharp enough to cut paper easily, they will also cut hair.
The girls had seated Hannah in a chair, wrapped an art shirt around
her to look like a smock in the beauty shop, and begun to cut. They
lifted her long, brown, glossy hair into the air and snipped it about two
inches from the scalp. Several locks had met their demise before I looked
up and screamed. The girls immediately began to cry. I have always won-
dered why they cried—whether it was because I screamed or because
they knew what they were doing was wrong. Either way, I joined the
crying. Soon the boys joined in, because if Teacher is crying, something
must really be wrong. I felt awful. How could I have let this happen? I
figured the parents would be irate. I had let them down; I didn’t protect
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