“Good morning, class,” I said to the children seated around me. “Beginning today, we’re going to try something new.”
I had captured their attention and now all eyes were on me.
Within each teacher lies the power to change the trajectory of the world—one student, one simple idea at a time.
“…we sat for a few minutes and talked about teaching children and what a sacred trust and responsibility it is.” (Quoted from article below)
Some time ago, I found myself responsible for a group of children, young boys and girls who had personalities as different as night and day.
Some were happy and confident; others, more troubled and insecure. All were in need of more meaningful connections in their lives, but some had a more obvious need than others—as evidenced by their behavior—and I desired to reach them.
“Starting today,” I continued, “before we begin our planned activities, each person in class will have 30 seconds to share something that happened to them during the week…”
Before I could finish my announcement, their hands were flying into the air.
They were excited to share.
Beginning at the left of the room and moving towards the right, each student anxiously took advantage of their 30 seconds to share something meaningful that had happened during their week.
Oftentimes it was something positive.
Sometimes it wasn’t.
“I got a new dress. It is so pretty and…”
“My grandma came to visit. It was so much fun and…”
“My sister broke her arm and…”
“I have so much homework to do. It really stresses me out and…”
“I’m so depressed. This is the worst thing ever. I had a ballgame last week, which my team won, and now I have to wait two WHOLE weeks for the next game and…”
“Things are really stressful at home and…”
“Someone at school threatened to kill me and I don’t know what to do and…”
“It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students.” (Quoted from article below)
It never ceases to amaze me how impactful this 5-minute exercise can be—when you now know something meaningful about a person, and they know that you know.
There is something deeply powerful and unequivocally binding about having the vulnerability to share because you know that someone cares.
The negative behavior in our classroom improved almost immediately after implementing this 5-minute activity in our classroom.
TO KNOW IS TO LOVE
“Do you know what I’ve loved about our class time?” I shared with my students, as our time together was ending. “I’ve loved hearing about your week during our 30-second share time, and I’ve loved the things we have learned together from the lesson book. I have really loved spending this time with you.”
Each child was listening intently. Then one boy, the most troubled of them all, raised his hand and whispered, “You were the one who started that.”
“You were the one who asked us to share about our week.”
His eyes, glistening with tears, pierced mine as he looked at me from his slouched position on his chair.
“Yes,” I answered. “And do you know why I started that activity?”
He shook his head.
“I started it because I feel it is a teacher’s responsibility to love her students, and she can’t love her students if she doesn’t know anything about them.”
The silence in the room was deafening, so I continued.
“I’ve loved getting to know each of you by hearing about your week,” I told them. “It matters to me what happens to you at school and what happens to you at home. I want you to know that I’m always here if you ever need someone to talk to. I love each of you and will miss being your teacher.”
REACHING THE ONE
Class time ended and I was overcome with emotion as the boys in my class ran to me and, together, gave me a big bear hug. The girls joined the group hug from behind and I thought my heart would burst with love for each one of them.
As the bear hug dissolved and the students began to leave the room, one by one, I noticed that one child was still in his chair.
It was the troubled boy.
He stood and walked slowly in my direction, eyes on the floor, until he stood directly in front of me.
For one awkward moment we looked at each other, but said nothing.
I could sense that he wanted a hug—that he NEEDED a hug— but that he wasn’t sure how to go about it.
With another teacher and a few children watching the awkward exchange, I extended one arm toward him, he extended one arm toward me, and we gave each other a brief side hug.
It was not the same as the group bear hug I had just received, where the children had enveloped me with open arms—but it was a start.
“I’ll miss you,” I called after him as he shuffled out of the room.
And I really meant it.
A REMARKABLE OPPORTUNITY
My time as their teacher may have ended, but my connection to them never will.
I was given the remarkable opportunity to recognize “patterns of love and loneliness” in their lives.
It is now my opportunity to act on the knowledge I have received—to support, to encourage, to love—whenever the opportunity arises, for these children—and ALL children—need to know that there are an increasing number of adults who are vested in their lives.
And what a gift that opportunity that is. ❤
What “patterns of love and loneliness” do you recognize in the children in your life?
If you found this post encouraging, please share it on social media!