Hugs … And The Words That Followed Them!

I had a wonderful March Break.

  • I loved taking the time to relax.
  • I loved reading some good books (including a wonderful mystery that I’m really hoping to finish in the coming weeks).
  • I loved meeting with friends and connecting with family members.
  • I loved planning for upcoming workshops and organizing some work for school.
  • I loved sleeping in … and I even loved a few afternoon naps. 🙂

For some reason, the March Break always seems to go by fast: you feel like you just started it and then it’s over. One of the first questions that people ask you after the Break is, “How was your holiday?” And I know that over the years, my reply has included phrases such as, “Not long enough,” or “Too short.” Vacations are wonderful, and while I do love school, that 4:30 alarm clock can be a hard adjustment after a week off.

Today was a little different. Before I got into any big conversations with colleagues about the Break, I saw one of my students. He came up and gave me a very unexpected hug. (In fact, he gave me a couple of them today.) At one point, I asked him why I got the hugs, and he said, “Because I missed you, Miss Dunsiger, and I’m happy to be back.” Simple words. Incredibly heart-felt. And why I will be resisting the urge from now on to say, “Not long enough,” “Too short,” or any other similar variation of this. 

Our words are powerful, and if this student that hugged me heard me say that my holiday was, “Not long enough,” I wonder what impact this would have on him. I wonder how he would view my thoughts on school, and I worry that it’s not the impression that I would want to give him. Because I do believe that school is a “wonderful place to be,” and it’s nice to know that after a week away, the students want to come back. How big an impact do you think our words have on students? Does this change how you respond to questions such as, “How was your holiday?”




6 thoughts on “Hugs … And The Words That Followed Them!

  1. Hi Aviva, glad to hear that you had a great March Break and received some hugs from your students on the first day back to school. I was one of those teachers today that said “the break was too short” but I add, “can’t complain, because the the break was a lot of fun” I am glad to be back teaching, coaching and sharing stories with my colleagues. Today, I made sure I was at the classroom door welcoming my grade 7 students back to school. I received many “hi Mr. R”, “how was your break” and one “I’m back”. I kept smiling and tried to get as much eye contact as possible. After announcements I included one of my favourite activities called “ball toss”. I toss a soft ball to any student who wants to share their break “highlight”. Today there was a twist, I put a 30 second time limit so more students will have the opportunity to share. After approx. 10 students share, we transitioned into the math lesson. Many students enjoy sharing their out-of-school experiences. I try this activity most Mondays. My class settles into school and focuses on the next lesson, usually math, after they had a chance to share what they did outside of school.
    Welcome back, have a nice week.

    • Thanks for the comment, David! I wonder if your words were interpreted differently because of how you clarified them. Even more so, your actions showed students how much you were excited to see them and how happy you were to be back. If you hadn’t engaged in these discussions and played this game, would students interpret your words differently? Would they think that you’d still rather be off? Would they question what you think of “going to school?” I’m not sure. I wonder how much our students internalize our words and actions, and I wonder what impact this should have (and maybe does have).

      Glad to hear you had a great Break! Have a wonderful week too!

      • Hi Aviva, I need to clarify, when I said march break was “too short or not long enough” that was directed to the adults at school not the students. When I responded to the students I mostly replied “I had a great break, glad to be back, time to start learning with a big smile.”

        • Thanks David! That does make a difference. I wonder if it would make a difference if students overheard, or I wonder if the fact that you seem excited to be back would be what matters most. I’m not sure.


  2. This school has caused me to take pause when talking about breaks in the calendar as well. A handful of my students need the safe haven of school, the food that comes from the cafeteria and the consistency of the school routine. I am amazed how many hugs I receive in the days leading up to a break. For those students, break is way too long.

    • Thanks for the comment, Kathy! All great points. I think that also students may have had a great holiday, but still enjoy coming back, seeing their friends, and getting back into a normal routine. I know that I crave routine. I think that many students do too. Yesterday was a great reminder to me that there’s value in seeing things from a student perspective.


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