Valentine’s Day is one of the most exciting days of the year for elementary students. Many of us can easily recall the feelings of affection we had for a classmate when we were still wide-eyed and innocent. The day brings great anticipation. Who will give us a valentine? What message will we choose to give a special someone with our conversation heart candy?
For many children, Valentine’s Day is their first experience with “love.” As adults, we know that there will be many trials and tribulations later, but for now we smile at their crushes and stories about “boyfriends” and “girlfriends.” Don’t we all secretly wish we could have that time back again, just a little? Oh well, at least we can re-live it through our children.
Valentine’s Day is also a good time for teachers to remember the importance of love in the classroom. Love still has an important place in our schools. Fostering love in the classroom builds a sense of community for our students. There are many ways to establish and cultivate love in our classrooms. Here are four suggestions for making your classroom a loving environment.
Let your students know that you like them. This can’t be faked. If they don’t feel it, they won’t be able to do their best for you. The brain is wired to perform best when it’s comfortable. Tell them you like them. Show them you like them…each and every day.
Offer your students choices. Students who are given choices in what and how they learn feel that they are part of the learning process. Learning isn’t something that happens to them, it is something that happens with them. Teachers who know their students well are more likely to provide students with learning choices that they value and that motivate them to become independent learners.
Value their differences. Get to know their culture, their background, and their interests. Find out the names of their pets, their favorite relatives, and the sports they play. Like adults, our students want to be recognized as individuals. This takes time, but it is time well-spent.
Excite them about learning. When teachers are excited about teaching, students become excited about learning, it’s that simple. Move around the room. Check in with each student for every lesson you teach. Get your students up and moving. Students need to talk about their learning. Meaningful learning can be messy and loud. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that that’s okay.
So, this Valentine’s Day remember the importance of love in teaching. Students who feel loved are more open and available for learning. They are also more likely to give back. Maybe they’ll give you a sweet card or some candy this Friday. Wouldn’t that be nice?