Kayla Chung, one of our outstanding ELS teachers, wrote this great piece about how her job has impacted her view on the pandemic.
As an infant teacher, I feel that I have a unique perspective around situations that seem out of personal control.
As someone who works eight hours a day in a classroom with 10 infants ranging from three months to a year old, you find yourself having to be an expert at scanning the room and making multiple micro-decisions at once. You have to multi-task and be flexible about the way things flow throughout the day; open-minded towards others’ perspectives and willing to collaborate on plans before they are carried out.
Many of these skills and abilities are something you can gain through formal education or training, as well as through hands-on experience with other adults over time and learning from your mistakes. The two skills (among many) that I would say I have been afforded the privilege to learn from the infants I have worked with have been flexibility and trust. Spending hours in my day, on the floor and engaged with infants has taught me to suspend my preconceived notions about what I think might work and just fully focus on what is happening in the present moment, so I can be attuned, receptive, and flexible to meet their needs. This has often been compared to as a “dance between infant and caregiver”, and if you can visualize a pair of dancers moving together, freestyle of course, you can begin to imagine what I am talking about. The pair of dancers and the caregiver-infant pair have to be open to one another and flexible to adapt to whatever is happening in the given exchange or interaction. There also must be a trust there. I trust that the infant is capable of communicating to me what they need because they are unique and know themselves best (even at the youngest age), and the infant trusts that I am listening to them and will help them meet their needs.
What does this have to do with the present COVID-19 pandemic?
It means that in this current situation, where so much is still unknown and things are changing constantly that have an impact at every level of life, flexibility and trust are needed even more. We must enter our everyday exchanges and interactions as the pair of dancers, with trust in each other and the flexibility to shift and adapt to the situation that is presented. How can you practice these skills? Well, for many of you, you may be a parent of children or know of someone who has children, so there is an opportunity afforded there to practice. Get down on the floor with your child, and just observe and listen to them. When they send you something, whether it’s verbally or through action, you receive that and have the opportunity to respond. And there you go – you have entered into the dance and can now continue the dance conversation. Many of you are doing this already, so keep it up!
Lastly, I just want to close with saying that we are all together in the same boat, and we will get through this! And we will have built more flexibility and trust as a community. I miss everyone tremendously at the JCC, and especially with my ELS community! Wishing continued good health and safety to you and yours!