Noticing Patterns of Love and Loneliness in our Children

“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.



“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.”


He continued.

“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.”



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.





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?


Here’s how one schoolteacher takes time each week to look out for the lonely.


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    This is such a great idea. I worked as a high school teacher for many years and found that teens just clam up when they’re in trouble. So, I’m so happy you found a way to break through to your kids.

  • Shannon Allen

    This activity is super helpful. I feel like I could do this with my own kids. Maybe even at work. I see underprivileged children for dental treatment and I think this could really make them feel heard. Thank you for this idea!

  • Kelsey

    This article was so moving. I hope all teachers care and try to reach their kids on the same level. It breaks my heart knowing there are children out there not knowing love.

  • Karen

    As a teacher, we have so much potential for reaching out to our students! They are going through tough stuff these days! Your students are blessed to have you for their teacher!

  • Katherine Wolfe

    I used to teach in the classroom and can STILL remember the needs of so many of my little students. So many kids are hurting, lonely, confused and just feel invisible in life. I stopped teaching to raise my own family but pray for the teachers out there trying to make a difference in the lives of these babies.

  • Cameryn Vonbargen

    I think this is so great. Teachers are often on the frontlines of mental health for our children. It is an unfortunate truth but sometimes teachers know something is happening with a child before the parents do. Ultimately, more time may be spent with these teachers but proper training in mental health could probably go a long way for both teachers and our children! What a great way to promote positivity and openness!

  • Summer

    It saddens me to know just how lonely and disconnected so many children are in this world. But, it makes me look inward and ponder whether or not my own children feel loved and connected. Thanks for challenging me to make more meaningful connections with the children in my life.

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