4 Things That Happen When Your Students Know You Love Them

Take five minutes to watch this video. It might make you tear with happiness, but it will also remind you of the choices we have and the impact we can make if we act with love and compassion in mind.

One particular remark in this video got me thinking. “Teachers are supposed to have these professional boundaries and what not, but really, her heart has no boundaries.” There are two things that I wish teachers would do more:

  1. Hug their students (show some emotion!).
  2. Let their students know they love them. When you mean it, it can transform a student.

I know some schools forbid teachers from hugging their students. In graduate school, I was advised by my professors of the side-hug and that one must never actually hug a child. I began teaching with this in mind. I made sure to only side-hug and to be careful about how much I opened my heart to my students.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that censoring care, kindness, and an outward expression of love was BS. So I hug my students. I tell them that I love them. I tell them whole class. And I tell them at appropriate moments one-on-one. Here are some things that begin to happen when your students know you love them.

  1. Improved self-esteem. They smile and feel good inside. Going to school feels less painful, less of a chore. The perceptions of school can change to a safe, fun and happy place.
  2. Student motivation increases. Love is reciprocal. When students know you truly care, they work harder and take greater risks.
  3. You become a real person. Too often students don’t see their teachers as real people because they do not seem like real people; they do not share or offer real emotions. Attitudes shift when students stop seeing you as a thing or a position and begin seeing you as a person.
  4. They love you back. 

We spend a considerable amount of time with our students in the classroom, and yes, after a couple months, I love them. Why hold that back?

School isn’t all academic. Whether you have a character education program at your school or not, building character is a byproduct of schooling. And what better way to teach strong character than by example. We want kids to be kind, caring, compassionate and loving. So, mustn’t we be the same?

Don’t be afraid to tell your students you love them.

How to Get to Know Your Students BEFORE the First Day of School

Each school year, I begin the year with an “About Me” form and end the year with a 5th Grade Evaluation form. The first is completed on the first day of school and the latter is completed anonymously on the last day of school. I also ask parents to complete a Child Learning Inventory form before school begins. I find the feedback from all three of these forms to be incredibly helpful and I KNOW my school year wouldn’t be the same without them.

I’ve posted about my 5th Grade Evaluation form HERE, and I’ll be posting my About Me form soon. The purpose of this post is to focus on the Child Learning Inventory form which has three huge benefits.

3 HUGE BENEFITS

A Child Learning Inventory…

  • Helps you get to know and understand your students’ needs and motivations.
  • Opens up communication between teacher and parents.
  • Allows teacher to adapt lessons or projects to best engage students. (This is particularly helpful when planning for the first month of school)
What’s a Child Inventory form?

The Child Inventory form is sent to parents a few weeks before the start of school. It gives me a jumpstart on getting to know the kiddos in my class and helps me plan for the first trimester. For example, I may see that a particular group loves to draw, and as a result I’ll probably incorporate drawing into more projects and classwork.

All of the questions on my form are purposeful and provide me with information that will help me teach each child. It allows me to understand the student’s learning style before entering the classroom and create lessons that will best engage my new class.

What Does it Look Like?

See below to view the Child Inventory form that I’ve used for the past two years. I created it in Google Drive.

HOW CAN I CREATE ONE?

I created my form in Google Drive. Creating forms with Drive is easy and painless. Log into your Drive account and click the red “NEW” button in the left hand column. You’ll need to select “More”, and then you’ll see an option for “Google Forms”. Select it. You’ve just created your first form! Now, all you have to do is add your questions and share it. If you’re more of a visual person, see the image below or click here to view a previous post with a more detailed click sheet.

Creating a Google Form

How Do you collect the data?

When parents submit the form, all of their responses are automatically collected and compiled in a response form. To view the responses, you can open the form in Drive and click “View responses”. The numbers are also counted and shown so you quickly see if new responses have been submitted (see red circle below).

Viewing Form Responses

I believe I make more progress with my students during the first months of school as a result of the feedback from this form. I also feel that it helps me establish working relationships with parents. Perhaps you’ll see benefits to using such a form a well. Maybe give it a try? See how it goes 🙂 .

If you have any questions about the purpose of a particular question within the form I created, please feel free to ask in the comments. I’d be happy to respond.

What Really Matters to Students: A Connection

When we feel overwhelmed or put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to be perfect as close to perfect as possible (as many of us young teachers do), remember what really matters. When it comes down to it, students remember the relationships we build, whether we listen, our kindness, our willingness to help and make ourselves available.

Figuring my students out, what drives them and how I can help develop their love of learning is what drives me. And the relationships that I build with my students help to get them invested in their education. So, it’s through relationships that I’m able to make the greatest impact as a teacher. For the most part, when students see that someone makes time for them and truly cares for them, they want to do well. They become more motivated, listen more intently and respond respectfully.

BEING A GOOD TEACHER = BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS

My friend posted this “Dear Young Teacher Down the Hall” letter by Lori Gard to Facebook yesterday, and I felt it was worth a share here. I like Lori’s post and her recommendations for “being” over “doing” because BEING has a greater, lasting impact on students. We must remember to BE.

BE

The Key to Student Motivation – 5 Steps to Uncover Student Passions and Interests

I know people write full books about this topic. I’m not looking to dissect motivations here, but shine a light on the basic key to student motivation.

Want to motivate your students- (1)

5 Easy Steps to Uncover Student Passions and Interests

1.   Untitled designObserve students. What sort of activities excite them? This is very telling. A student with a passion for technology may eagerly begin creating a Social Studies PowerPoint, but reluctantly demonstrate the same understanding by writing a story.

2.  Collect information from students. Most of the time students know themselves best. I have students complete this About Me form during the first few days of school. Some students are easily motivated or they know exactly what they like and what motivates them, while others are tougher to analyze. This gives be a great starting place to make sure I am best equipped to meet all student needs.

3.  REFLECTReflect, reflect, reflect. I’m a huge fan of reflections. I provide students many avenues to reflect. To me, it doesn’t matter how it’s done; as long as reflection is taking place, so is growth. We reflect on our goals and at the end of units or projects. Really, we reflect every day, but those mentioned are our “formal” reflections. These reflections enable self-awareness. Also, when reflection becomes a part of your classroom culture, students seem to be more invested. I think reflections alone are motivating to students. That aside, the reflections provide you with more insight into your students likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. It’s a time for honesty, and wow, 5th graders are HONEST!

4. G Set goals. Some students are naturally goal-oriented. Others, not-so-much. Regardless, I’ve found that making progress towards a goal feels good to all students. When you give students control of setting their own goals, you put the student in the driver’s seat. They have just set a goal for themselves to reach. THEY created them, NOT the teacher. This motivates students. It also, once again, gives you the opportunity to see what is currently important to them, what they are motivated to achieve.

multiple-intelligences5. Teach students about the multiple intelligences. You may have an understanding of each student’s unique learning profile, but when students understand it, they become more invested in their learning. I’ve seen it several times – after students learn how they learn, they feel empowered. I’ve seen magic happen by engaging in this dialogue with students.

5 Easy Steps A 6th Step to Uncover Student Passions and Interests

6.  Kidblog. I had to take the easy out of this one, just because it requires that you roll it out successfully first. Through independent posts on Kidblog, you are able to get to know your students even better! You’re able to gain more insight into what motivates your students. For those who really enjoy Kidblog, publishing work to Kidblog is a motivating factor on it’s own. 

Sometimes, around this time of year, we need reminders of the simple things. Just like you and I, students are intrinsically motivated by their passions and interests. They are intrinsically motivated when they are invested in a project or understand its significance.

Whenever I feel like a student is unmotivated, I look towards myself. Have I uncovered this students passion yet? Have I found what drives him or her? If not, that’s where I have to start. The 5 points listed above help me greatly.