"Hi, Alex!" the cheerful teacher greeted the 9-year-old as he ambled into the small air-conditioned classroom. He was late but it did not matter to her. After all, she was glad he had appeared after an unpleasant incident between them the previous week.
Outside, a figure stood. The door was ajar and distracted eyes were trying to get a glimpse of the unknown visitor. Sensing an audience, the teacher stood up and walked to the door. Before her, a mother's face came into view.
Hello, you are...Alex's mother?"
With that, a brief discussion about The Incident was raised.
They had already met each other after the incident. That afternoon, the manager had promptly informed the mother about her son's misdemeanour during the lesson when she arrived to pick him up after lesson. Defensive and somewhat unfriendly, she didn't give a smile and had thought another teacher had 'picked on' her son again.
But she looked friendlier this time. After exchanging pleasantries, both teacher and mother arrived at a new level of understanding about her son and his behaviour. To her surprise, the teacher didn't fault him at all. Her son was growing up in his own way and both adults knew that. This time, she was smiling warmly at his teacher.
"I'm really sorry for the trouble he caused", she said before she left the corridor.
"Its alright, he is fine."
With that, the teacher bade her goodbye and returned to the classroom which had become a hive of sorts.
Alex looked as if nothing had happened a week earlier. On the contrary, he had seemed cheerful and more polite this time. Seated on the first row, the teacher looked at him and smiled.
'See his strengths, not his shortcomings..' a passing thought overcame her.
He fidgeted restlessly in his seat; at times turning around to chat with his classmates behind. Occasionally, his decibel got the better of him and she had to tell him nicely to tone down.
Alex knew his verbs, adjectives and nouns very well. He was adept at spelling too. Responsive and articulate, he was able to handle all his assignments if not for his restlessness and frequent distractions. He was helpful and ever willing to help his teacher distribute papers in class. She knew he enjoyed that task tremendously and made sure he did something for her every lesson.
After The Incident, she learnt not to generalise and judge in class. Every child is different and unique. As an educator, the best way to deal with challenging behaviour is to find the good in each child and maximise that.