Stop Moment #1: Witnessing What’s Best

Presently in my program at Simon Fraser University, we are investigating “stop moments”. As Dr.Lynn Fels explains, “These stops are action-sites of learning which, in turn, inform our pedagogical practices and/or ways of being in the world.”1

Over the coming weeks, I will share my “stop moment” short stories and illustrations here. I have changed the names of students.


Kyle’s red hair bounces on his head as he marches around the room with a homemade stir-stick-and-paper flag that reads, “Outdoors!”

It’s a wet Friday afternoon and cabin fever is spreading quickly in the grade 4 classroom.“Yes,” I agree, “let’s get some fresh air and have some free time outside.”

I open the door and the students bolt in every direction. I am happy to observe their self-initiated games on the playgrounds, fields and courts. But I am a new substitute teacher, and I often feel self-conscious under the gaze of other teachers and administrators.

Some boys playing on the basketball court are too far away for me to properly see them, so I ask a student to retrieve them. All but two come back.

“Why are Justin and Daren still over there? Are they purposely ignoring me?” I ask Mark, one of the boys who returned.

“No, it’s just that Justin needs to cool down, and it’s better if one friend can stay with him. Daren is going to make sure he’s okay.”

I watch Justin kicking the basketball around, and Daren calmly walking behind him. Mark’s comment reminds me to be a more sensitive witness to the relationship dynamics already present among students and to decentralize power by trusting that students often know what course of care is best for themselves and for each other.

1 Fels, Lynn. “Coming into Presence: The Unfolding of a Moment.” Journal of Educational Controversy 5, no. 1. Accessed January 17, 2014.


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