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:
- Hug their students (show some emotion!).
- 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.
- 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.
- Student motivation increases. Love is reciprocal. When students know you truly care, they work harder and take greater risks.
- 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.
- 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.