Tomorrow, I’ll turn the page on the second week of school. My heart is so full. I have 46 fifth graders and have given away my heart 46 times in the last two weeks. “I love you,” came off of my lips before the objectives were even discussed. I am driven by the belief that I have to reach these kids before I can teach these kids. I am not trying to convince them of my love for them as a ploy to get them to pay attention. I NEED them to know that I love them. It’s a message that is as important as the content. I need them to know I believe in them.
I had a teacher who was struggling with classroom management compliment me once at how kind my kids always are. I am honored by the compliment, but I want to share the secret: I’m not lucky; this kindness is intentionally built into my classroom.
I’ve spent a lot of time observing patterns, and I have been able to identify some predictable responses. When the classroom begins to take shape, and celebrations are shared, complimenting a child for the appropriate behavior, a trigger reaction predictably follows with, “I did it too” or “What about me?” Knowing these reactions are slated to follow, I now stop them before they arise. Like a mind-reading soothsayer, I announce, “instead of whining that you did it too, what would love look like?” Puzzled faces usually follow my probing, as a confused audience stumbles to figure out how I read their minds. After a bit of a delay, answers begin to organically arise, and the formation of what “love looks like” begins to make its mark upon my classroom family. The boos are replaced with cheers, and I introduce my favorite classroom cheers, that have taken shape over the years, many being passed down from the generations of our family before them. As these cheers layer upon each other, a culture of love begins to weave its way into the walls of our classroom, and walls around hearts are torn down as we all begin to trust each other and realize this IS a safe place. The layers of love and trust go too deep to share them all in this post, but I urge you to find what “love looks like” in your classrooms, and allow the members of your classroom family to have an active voice in what that looks like.
With a full heart,