I started actually teaching my new class this week. There are no Montessori schools within an hour of our city and people glance sideways when they hear I am a Montessori teacher, but one of the directors of a local preschool really wants her other teachers to incorporate some new teaching methods instead of just using worksheets. So she brought me on board two days a week and I work with a small class of 4 year-olds all by myself.
I have been working with children for a long time. I have seen a lot of things. I have had a 5th grader fall off of a high bar directly onto her neck and head. I have had countless beans and things in children's ears. I have had to talk a homeless vet out of my classroom who had wandered in through the back door. I have had a parent send her child in with poisonous berries to share for Show and Tell. I have stopped kids from cutting their hair and clothing and other kid's hair. I even had to talk a group of 4-6th graders through the events of Sept. 11 because so many parents came rushing into our school when the Twin Towers fell that I had to tell the remaining children what happened to ease their fears. I have been through a lot. But I have never been as scared as I was this past week.
Now I don't know if it is because this is my first time being a lead teacher, or because I was all alone with the kids in a separate part of the building, or if it was because it was my first day with a brand new bunch of kids....BUT...I was scared.
A little boy in my class has unlabeled "issues." His mom is currently working with some specialists to diagnose his learning disability. He came in and immediately started eating the playdough (this is the reason I only use homemade playdough in my class). That's not too unusual. I stopped him and he was fine. But later during our circle time the kids were playing Freeze Dance. Somehow when the game stopped, our circle sat down in a different place from whence we started. I went with it, not thinking too much about it. That was my mistake. I wholeheartedly accept responsibility for what happened next.
The little boy had ended up sitting next to an uncovered outlet where I had plugged the CD player in. 4 year-olds by now have learned not to touch outlets, so even though I saw his position, I paid little attention to it UNTIL HE LICKED HIS FINGER AND TRIED TO PUT IT INTO THE SOCKET! I have never seen a child actually LICK his finger to put it in a socket. A huge loud "NO" bubbled up from the deepest Mommy recesses of my soul and I scared all of the kids in my group, causing the little boy to actually cry. I immediately pulled him onto my lap and explained I wasn't mad at him but what he did was very VERY scary. All of the kids chimed in that their mommies and daddies had already told them never to touch an outlet, so they were fine and recovered, but I could not get this little boy to stop crying.
I talked to his mom and she didn't even bat an eye. But I have learned a lesson for life. All outlets must be overed until the children are at least 21.