She was not speaking to anyone in the classroom and it has been weeks like this. Her head down in her books not wanting to speak with anyone. The teacher was very concerned about her well being and was at a loss of what do to draw her out of her shell. I have always hated that phrase "Getting someone out of their shell". You cannot force a person to come out of their shell just because you think that it was is best for them. It takes time and comfort for them to want to engage with their environment. I knew by looking at her that she will come out of her shell when she damn well was ready for it. However I can speed up the process by planting a little seed her head. I knew what I needed to do. I approached her very calmly and got down on one knee to her level. I noticed that she had family picture of her and her brother sister and parents so I started to ask her questions about herself and her family. As humans we love to speak about ourselves and we all have a tendency to naturally be drawn to someone who takes a genuine interest in who we are as people. Have you ever noticed when we see a colleague at work and the feelings that we get when we engage with them when we are enjoying the interaction. Our minds begin to associate that person with positive emotions. We look forward to going to work to run into that individual because of the feels we get from that interaction. I knew that I had to create the same feelings in this student to get her to establish a connection with me. So I asked her open ended questions. She spoke quietly and calmly. I made a point not to make the conversation to long so to not overwhelm her. At the end of our conversation I made a silly joke to make her laugh. That was the seed being planted. That`s when I ended that conversation and left her with a positive impression of me. The weeks following this interaction I made a point to ask her open ended question and make her laugh in every conversation we had and make her laugh at the end. I did this so that she can associate me with positive emotions. When she associates me with positive emotions she will naturally want to open up to me and want my attention. In this process I become someone of value to her. Someone that she wants validation from. In the weeks following was beginning to interact with her peers. I watched from afar and she started coming out of her shell at her own pace. One day during an exam, the entire class was silent focusing on their exam. I saw her putting her head on her desks getting frustrated. She put her head up turned around and made eye contact with me. Her eyes were full of tears and her face was red. I gave her a smile and thumbs up basically communicating in a non verbal fashion ``its ok you got this I believe in you``. She understood what I was saying. She smiled back at me wiped the tears off her face and gave me a thumbs up. She returned to her exam. From what I gathered from that interaction is that I made a connection with her. I took some time and consistency but the seed grew successfully. Human being are not complicated. We generally will seek out pleasure and avoid pain. That concept follows us in out interaction with others. We emotionally connect ourselves to individuals that make us feel good. We get kick a of dopamine in that persons presence. I`m sure we have all been their, being a child unsure how to navigate the world, and waiting for some adult in our lives to swoop in and give us some guidance and comfort, but all it take is one. One person to make us feel like family in a strange land filled with strangers. It also take just one very strong emotional connection with a person to cause us to open up and have a snowball effect and open ourselves to everyone else.
As I walk through the hallway that is filled with Grade 2 students all lined up for their Phy. Ed class I hear a very familiar excited voice right behind me."Hello Mr. Logan!" I turn around and their she was. Her big brown eyes filled with light and excitement, and very timid, and approval seeking smile. I make sure that I am several meters away so that I can pull down my mask and reciprocate the smile and validate her attention seeking expression. It takes time, work and consistently to build a strong positive connection with a child but when you finally do establish that bond its life changing. A year before all this I met her for the first time in Grade 1. There she was in the back of the class very quiet, very shy, very timid. One day she gets off her chair and approaches me. She does not speak a word does not crack a smile. She hands me her pencil and her sharpener. I know what she is asking for but she is too shy to say the words. So I begin sharpening her pencil. I tell her a joke to put her mind at ease. She cracks a very small smile. This pattern occurred everyday for two weeks. As everyday passed that smile got bigger and her eyes got wider with excitement. She would return to her seat turn around at me and start giggling. I knew from these reactions that I was finally making a connection with her. In time she began to speak and having conversations with me. At this point she was beginning to associate me with positive emotions. She began to get more comfortable speaking in class and raising her hand when she had a question. She was slowly starting to project her voice across the class. A huge progression from when I had to put my ear an inch from her face to hear her voice. She starting making friends joining in on games during recess and lunch. On the days she was too shy I would initiate a game with her and the other children. I would allow myself to slowly fade away into the background and this allowed facilitated her to establish a connection more with her peers then just with me. As the school year went on she improved. Now in Grade 2 she is blossoming. I always make a point to check in with her from time to time. Even if we do not see each other as much I always make sure to be her Constant. To be that Power Male Role Model when she needs it. When she throws up that Bat signal she knows The Batman is on the way.