I love you. These three simple words can change attitudes, build confidence, and promote self-worth. And, when believed, change a person’s trajectory. I witnessed the power of these words early in my teaching career when a guest teacher spent the day in my classroom while I was out for a training. Andree Halden, a well-known retired kindergarten teacher from our district, accepted the opportunity to work with my students for the day, and I have to admit, I was secretly happy to have a day away.
That year I had 24 students, and the varying needs and personalities mixed with numerous teaching demands were topped with a student who consistently displayed extremely challenging behaviors. It was almost too much. Each morning I gave myself a pep talk about how that day would be different, but within two minutes of this child entering the room, a power struggle ensued. His daily behaviors included throwing his book bag, shouting, taking others’ belongings, running, kicking, and frequent bursts of “I hate you!” The class (and I) came to expect his behavior, and even learned strategies for dealing with physical and verbal outbursts. So when I learned I needed to put in for a guest teacher so that I could attend a training, I was more than willing to do so.
I spent ample time preparing to be gone and, in my plans, included a list of strategies Ms. Halden could use when working with the most difficult behaviors. I fully expected to return the next day to a lengthy note from her and a request to be removed from my list of guest teachers.
The opposite was true. I returned to a short note that said the day had been great. The only mention of the student in question was an empathetic comment:
George had a rough start to the day but nothing we couldn’t handle. As soon as I told him I loved him and we would get through it together, things got better. Poor child, he must have a lot going on to be full of such anger. What a sweetie.
I remember the moment I read her note like it was yesterday. “I love you.” That is one statement I had never said to George. That is one emotion he had yet to feel from me: love.
I am not going to say that from that moment on, everything was perfect and all challenging behavior ceased, because that certainly isn’t true, but I can say that that was the turning point for George, me, and the entire class.
Love has the power to heal, comfort, and unite. It can be life changing.
How do you spread love in the classroom or school so that your students feel accepted, welcome, and cared for? Share on our discussion board.