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edu180atl: mary elizabeth teem 10.11.11

Every moment with a child is a teachable moment. Given the right tools, proper modeling, and the appropriate amount of encouragement, there are very few limitations to what a child can achieve.

I heard once that our job as educators and as parents is to prepare the child for the path…not the path for the child.

Just today, I was reminded of that when I watched a little six-year-old boy solve a problem that I could have easily solved for him. While it was tempting for me — I wanted to step in and quickly remove the obstacles in Russell’s path — the better choice was to honor the teachable moment, take a step back, and allow Russell time to solve the problem independently. Russell needed to learn that he could solve  the problem without help from an adult. And he was ready to do so. And he did.

I work at a school whose mission is for children to realize their unique potential while placing the child at the center of the learning process. Parents partner with teachers and teachers partner with parents.Yet, sometimes it’s the adults who creep toward the center.

If parents and teachers get out of the way, who does that leave? It leaves the child at the center of their educational development…and that’s where they should be.

What did I learn today? That in order to capitalize on those teachable moments, in order to help “grow” children into the unique individuals and problem solvers and critical thinkers they will one day become, I often have to be more disciplined in my interactions and conversations. I need to get out of the way more often. Because usually like today, as I take a step back, the child is ready to take a step forward. And that’s a good first step toward a path that they will ultimately have to choose and conquer themselves.

About the Author: Mary Elizabeth Teem has worked in education for 13 years. She strives to honor more teachable moments in preparing the child for the path ahead…whatever that path may be.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sarah Neale Williams #

    Wow! Great entry, Mary Elizabeth. This is unbelievably true. In fact, it seems easier to forget when you work at a school like yours (or like mine) that is fortunate enough to have a strong team of people to support students’ learning and growing. However, you are so right in saying that many times, this pushes the adults into the center instead of the child. Using the word “disciplined” to describe the way in which you want to approach your conversations and interactions is dead on and has challenged me to do the same. Thanks for some great thoughts at the end of a day!

    October 11, 2011
  2. Maryellen Berry #

    Mary Elizabeth, it always feels easier to pave a path than it does to prepare a child for that path. Releasing control to students requires trust in their abilities and in ours to be a support rather than the leader pushing. I appreciate your reflections today.

    October 11, 2011

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