Isn’t it strange how one child being away can make such a difference to a classroom. A classroom that always seems to function reasonably suddenly becomes an amazing place to be when one child is away. It’s also not always the child you expect either. It’s similar with group work, how changing one child within a group can really alter the whole dynamics. How can one child make such a difference?
Some children seem to be able to have an influence far beyond what you would reasonably expect. Some are in your face and have a sphere of fear that seems to emanate from them giving them a reputation of power. Some who are far quieter, creep in, say a few words, step back and watch for the reaction, slipping, innocently back into the shadows. Some seem perfectly fine in school but then go home, onto their social media sites and leave unpleasant messages for all and sundry to read.
Equally well are those who quietly and effortlessly seem to have a good influence on a group, who seem to have the interpersonal skills to get others to listen and want to work with each other. The differences between the two types can sometimes be slight.
What always amazes me is how charismatic some of the first group of children can be. They have developed these skills and their personality outside of school, whether they have copied the behaviours from those with whom they live or developed them as a survival method I’m not sure.
I’ve worked in schools for a long time now and I certainly don’t have the answers to lots of questions such as “How does one child make such a difference?” – perhaps I should have been an educational psychologist rather than a teacher!