Once again, in the hustle and bustle of end of year activities, it takes my daughter to remind me of things. I wish her timing was better, but maybe it took the time frame to make me more aware of the situation. It was 3AM, and I was dead asleep. I was woken up by the sounds of crying through the child monitor. Since it was my turn to deal with the late night situations, I rolled myself out of bed and stumbled down the hallway.
Typically crying like this indicated that she needed to go to the bathroom (which also needs to be chaperoned in her opinion), so when I found her crying in bed that was the first question I asked. She whimpered “Daada, I wan me craft.” Since I was still half asleep, I really had no clue what she was talking about. After having her unsuccessfully tell me four more times, she came to me and cuddled in. After a second, she said more succinctly, “Daddy, I want my Minecraft.” My first thought was “Really? You are crying because you can’t find your toy at 3AM?”, but that was mostly the sleep talking.
I don’t know if you know what a creeper is on Minecraft, it looks like this
This was the toy picked out for her by my son (mental note: never let him pick toys for her again). Other than the overall wrongness of the design of the toy, it also is very small. 3AM, everyone is asleep, it’s dark. How am I going to find this small toy in our house when she doesn’t even have a clue where it is? I confidently assured her I would find it, and after a half an hour of searching I did find it- in a playbin downstairs (logical right?) Surprisingly she stayed up the whole time until I brought it in, and then asked me to stay with her for a little bit. I did, and almost fell asleep in the 5 minutes I stayed with her. As I stumbled back to the bedroom, the image of her cradling the toy and snuggling into me made me smile. It wasn’t until a half hour later, when she was crying again, that I realized what the true purpose of this whole event was: filling a need for attention and safety.
When I laid back after the second cuddle time with my daughter, I started thinking of why this incident happened tonight when the rest of the week went so well. She wanted reassurance and a feeling of safety at that time- even though she has slept through the night many times before. I then though about my student in class. Even though I work hard to instill good learner practices in my students, I still have many who come to me with a question- just to do the whole thing on their own. At the end of the year it is very easy to get frustrated with these students, that they are purposefully doing this for peer attention or to distract you. My daughter reminded me that it is the opposite.
In order for our students to be able to learn, they need to get their basic needs met. There are many students who don’t feel safe and secure in class, and this is needed to take the step into problem solving. Students need to feel comfortable enough to attempt their strategy, even though it may be wrong- but Math has turned into a class where if you do a step wrong then you are labeled as bad at Math. Just like a creeper, just the presence of my physical locale allows students to calm down, think logically and do work that they know how to do. I have to remind myself that while at times it feels like my time is wasted watching a student do work without my help, they need that attention from me.
Similar to my son demonstrating how to do a butt-bomb on the trampoline, my students need me to watch their skill at solving problems and have me tell them “Good Job!”