I’m not a gardener by any means. I sometimes think I would like to be, but then it quickly becomes apparent that plants die from just being in my presence. I have come to terms with this flaw and I now look with admiration at gardens others have cultivated and buy my vegetables from people who are capable of growing them.
However, I have raised two children that are proficient gardeners. I love to listen to them passionately talk about how best to support the plants in their care. Like Alexander den Heijer reminds us in the words above – they are all about modifying the environment so that each plant might thrive. They discuss whether a struggling plant might need more water or less sun, if the soil needs more nutrients or if the plant might be interacting poorly with another plant in the garden. I have never seen them throw up their hands and declare a plant unfit for the environment, or blame the plant for its failure to grow.
What if teachers approached children’s classroom experience with the same attitude? What if every teacher believed that every child can succeed and instead of focusing on “fixing” the child, focused on adapting the environment to ensure the child’s success. Den Heijer’s words – this idea – have brought me here; a book, a website, and this blog.
Children’s behaviors are a form of communication. And, when they are exhibiting challenging behaviors in the classroom; they are often communicating that something in the environment is not working for them. As a teacher, looking at behavior through this lens helped me support children who were floundering, even those who had been kicked out of numerous centers before walking through the door. Over the years, I have shared my learning from these encounters with others, in the hopes that other teachers and children would find success in the classroom. Those presentations have morphed into the book Uncover the Roots of Challenging Behaviors: Create Responsive Environments Where Young Children Thrive.
I am thrilled to see this ideas manifest in the words in this book. It is my sincere hope that as those who serve children in the world of early care & education read this book – they take on this mantle of gardeners. That they use the ideas in the book to create environments in which all children can thrive; where as an industry, we focus on fixing classrooms instead of blaming the children who struggle. In that world every child hears from the lips of those responsible for their care and learning, “you seem like a really great child – and, don’t worry, I will work tirelessly to help you succeed. Together we will figure this out because you are worth it.”
What do you think? Engage with me and others in the ECE community on my social media outlets. You can also find more information about my book and available training sessions, on any of the following:
Facebook: Teacher as Gardener
LinkedIn: Michelle Salcedo
The book can be purchased at Free Spirit Publishing