Teachers aroud the world ae trying to spread the love to their pupils. Here are four ways this has happened in the USA.
In the amount of time teachers have with kids, they’re expected to help their students learn and prepare them for the coming years. But many go the extra mile to make sure their students also feel welcomed, accepted and heard.
Some teachers have done this with inspiring songs. Others have used messages of support to fight back against the recent spate of hate crimes and hateful political rhetoric targeted at marginalized communities. Inspired by these acts, HuffPost Parents reached out to teachers (both former and current) across the country to learn what they’re doing or what they have done to help their students.
Here are 14 teachers on how they spread love in the classroom:
1. “When we see a kid being kind to others … or being a helper we give them a pom pom and they get to drop it in the warm and fuzzy jar.”
I’m a preschool teacher and myself and the other preschool teachers have created a “warm and fuzzy jar” and we talk about being kind with friends and with ourselves. When we see a kid being kind to others, being gentle with their bodies (walking inside, not hitting themselves, etc.), or being a helper we give them a pom pom and they get to drop it in the warm and fuzzy jar. When our jar is full we get to celebrate and the kids get to work together to choose what our goal will be (wear pajamas to school, extra outside time, making popcorn). As teachers we all were affected by this election, and it really lit a fire in us to make sure the children are as kind and accepting as can be.
― Krista Mashburn, a preschool teacher in Arcata, California
2. “We go around the circle and say a compliment to the person sitting on your left.”
I teach music to students ages 4 to 15 in a rural public school. Many of my students lack strong verbal communication skills, so we practice through songs and activities. One class opener my first- and second-grade students love is the “Compliment Circle.” It’s simple ― at the beginning of class, we go around the circle and say a compliment to the person sitting on your left. It’s amazing to see the tension melt off a 7-year-old’s face with a simple, “You’re nice to me in class,” or “I like your shoes.” To be seen and appreciated for their choices ― it’s so important for kids, but we can lose sight in the pressure of lesson planning, test scores and data.
― Camille Loomis, a public school teacher in Clarksdale, Mississippi
3. “[I got the class involved in] a fun activity while teaching teamwork and patience with the other person.”
During one activity, the students sat with their back to the white board and their classmates were able to surround them with messages. I didn’t place any stipulations on the messages and the students wrote very positive characteristics of that person or compliments, even with people they don’t necessarily get along with. Many students were anxious about sitting there without being able to see what was being written or by whom. In the end when the student turned around to read their board, many became emotional. One student said, “I’ve never felt more a part of a group, I didn’t know you guys even liked me.” This was definitely successful in giving students a confidence boost and spreading love to students that normally keep to themselves.
A second activity I used was a fun teamwork game called “Sole Mates.” Each student chose a partner and had to work together in any position they could come up with as long as their two shoe soles were together at all times. I then challenged them to race from one side of the room to the other. This was a fun activity while teaching teamwork and patience with the other person.
― Kristin Harris, ninth-grade history and humanities teacher in Phoenix
4. “As a man teaching a rigorous science (physics), I felt it was important to be emotionally expressive.”
It’s been a couple years since I taught full time. I have always believed learning requires emotion. The idea that your mind will become invested in a subject that you have no emotional connection to was always absurd to me. I used to spend the first five to 10 minutes of class just talking to the students. I used their thoughts to form the day’s theme, recurring joke or compelling problem to emotionally connect with content. I was reprimanded for not teaching content bell-to-bell, despite demonstrating the efficacy of my methods.
I taught high school, and I found it important to model “adult” behavior. As a man teaching a rigorous science (physics), I felt it was important to be emotionally expressive. I loved my students and told them so. I loved hard problems, good questions and clever solutions, so I would get excited and emote as visibly as possible. When kids appeared upset or distracted, I’d ask if they were OK, but respected boundaries if they didn’t want to talk to me. I let the students engage with my emotions as a model for being open about feelings. In short, I was openly human to my students, which let them know my expectation of them: Be yourself, it’s safe here, we’re all human.
― David Galatzer-Levy, who has taught many levels of education, though most of his work involved teaching 10th- to 12th-grade physics and mathematics in Fall River, Massachusetts