My teaching partner and I are usually really cognizant about tidying up on time at the end of the day. Getting dressed and ready for home can be a stressful experience for many students and adults, and having some extra time to get ready slowly with fewer people out in the hallway, really seems to help. For a couple of different reasons, we were later tidying up today, and getting organized for home initially seemed far more rushed.
I went outside in the hallway to help the students get ready, and one child had an armful of clothing items, containers, and bags that he was determined to carry home with him, as is, in his arms. I convinced him to put everything in his backpack, but this turned out to be a very time-consuming process, and he ended up being one of the last children ready to go home. After I helped him with his zipper, he turned to me and said, “Can I tell you something, Miss Dunsiger?” At this point, I was tired and a little bit stressed, but I took a deep breath and replied, “Sure.” He looked at me and said, “I love you!” That’s when my heart melted.
I’ll admit that this is not the first time I’ve heard these words at school. Other students have said them to me before. Sometimes they also show you they care with …
- their stories.
- their pictures.
- their cards.
- their high fives.
- their hugs.
But this isn’t what almost moved me to tears this afternoon: it was the realization that I almost replied to his question with, “No.” I almost said, “We don’t have time.” I almost asked, “Can this wait until Tuesday?” Here’s a student that just wanted to take one of the final minutes in the day to tell me how much he cared about me, and I almost stopped this from happening.
This experience I think will forever be a reminder for me to always respond to, “Can I tell you something?,” with a “Yes.” You never know what somebody’s going to share. You sometimes never realize the impact you can have on another person. Imagine missing the chance to hear it. Has someone ever asked you this question before? How have you replied?
What an amazing gift that student gave you! (and us because you shared it)
It is true that you never know what you will hear, but making the time to listen is essential for our students.
Thanks for sharing and the reminder to take the time.
Thanks for the comment, Sarah! I think that this experience was definitely a good reminder for me to always take the time to listen. I know that I’ll be thinking about what he said when somebody (an adult or a child) asks me this question again. Without even realizing it, this student taught me a very valuable lesson today.
Such a great reminder which we need to hear again and again – because those stressful moments will keep popping up and will tell us that we don’t have the time. Our kids, our colleagues, our schools will all be better when we commit to taking the time to listen to each other. Thank you, Aviva!
Thanks Sherri! I agree. And if we can make the time at the moment to really listen, even better, and if not, I think that we need to make sure we don’t dismiss with “no,” (which I have certainly done before), and find another time when we can really sit and talk. Everyone deserves this: children and adults alike! I’m very glad that this child reminded me of this yesterday.
I like to respond “you can tell me anything.” I pride myself for that line. But you are right. We aren’t perfect and there are times when we shut down kids in stressful moments. For example, when you are sure you are hearing a lie or we are in a hurry. I use the royal “you” and “we” right now. Thanks for making me think about those moments for self regulation.
Thanks for the comment, Donna, and I am definitely guilty of what you mentioned here. Sometimes too, I think that I don’t listen as well as I should if I think I already know the answer (e.g., if there is a conflict between two students, and I’m sure that I already know what happened and how to solve it). This child’s comment was just a good reminder to me that sometimes we never know what children (or adults) are going to say. There’s value in finding the time to listen.
The world would be a better place if all adults took the time to be present for children. One of my goals as a teacher is to connect with all of my 26 students every day. It may be a simple welcome, or a compliment on something which they have done. Or as you did, it might be just listening to them. One year, a parent told me that her daughter came home and said, “My teacher noticed me.” This hadn’t happened to her in years past as she just compliantly did her work flying under the radar.
I went to a workshop once and was given a challenge which I have never forgotten. Here it is… Write down all the names of your students and beside each name write something which you know about them. It could be an hobby or interest, maybe somewhere they have travelled, or perhaps the pet they cherish. You should all be able to do it by now, but what about after the first month of school. If you can’t to this for all your students, well you have something to work on after this Easter weekend.
Thanks for the comment, Herman! These connections are definitely so important, and I’m glad that you mentioned this activity. I’ve heard about it before as well (I wish that I remember where), and it’s something that I challenge myself to do multiple times during the year (as students continue to change, and I want to know if I really know about these changes). Thank you for the great reminder!
Wow. What a great reminder. It is so easy to forget about what is important in our role as educator when stress creeps in. This reminded me that it is crucial to always put students first or else we can miss those special moments! Entering this new week remembering just that!
Thanks Maria! What a great thing to remember as this new week begins. I think that I’ll try to remember this as well. This interaction last week was a great reminder for me about what’s really important.