Miss Sheila

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Once upon a time, I worked with Miss Sheila.

I mean, I’ve worked with a lot of people in my career. None of them were really named Sheila. I changed the real name of the woman in this story because I’m guessing she’d be pretty upset if I used her real name.

(Weird question: I wonder why people get more upset that I might be talking about something they did wrong than that they may have done something wrong with children?)

But back to Sheila. We worked together in a classroom of two year old children. Here is a list of things the two year olds were scolded for:

  • Putting things in their mouth
  • Playing in water
  • Running
  • Climbing
  • Eating too fast
  • Eating too slow
  • Crying
  • Standing up to listen to a story
  • Putting connecting blocks on their fingers to sing a song instead of building something

You guys. It’s such a long list. I can’t even tell you all of the things.

I used to wonder why she bothered coming to work. Every thing these kids did made her crazy. But she would talk a big and noble talk in the break room about her call to teach and the difference she was making. And she really believed herself. And then I started to understand why.

She would talk about the importance of understanding what two year olds are like to be able to teach them. But she believed her job was to stop them from doing the things that made them two year olds. She wasn’t trying to understand two year olds so she could meet their needs, foster their development and have appropriate expectations. She thought that her job was to CHANGE their two-year-oldness. And she was so sincere.

How about you? What is “teaching” to you? Is it changing or is it understanding and


Is it about you or is it about the child?

Heather hosts the That Early Childhood Nerd Podcast and contributes articles to the Playvolution HQ website. Connect with Heather for personalized Skype workshops, book studies, consulting and more.