Monday, October 13, 2014

Crash Course Week 6: Love and Generosity

This week's chapters really went well together. How do you show love and support to students in your classroom? I like Kim's question at the end of chapter 9 -- do you/how do you model a spirit of encouragement and support for others?

Our reading assignment for next week is chapters 10 and 11, "Tenacity" and "Insight." This week marks the halfway point in the book club. If you need to catch up on the readings or your comments, take some time to do that this week. Also, if you have friends or colleagues who would like to join the book club, they are more than welcome to. Just be sure they introduce themselves in week 1.

58 comments:

  1. I feel that love and support can be shown many different ways in the classroom. One tactic I have found most beneficial is to pull a student aside who I know is struggling. For example, I have a college prep student who has had a difficult time making the transition from 6th to 7th grade. When I spoke to her about the concerns I had she immediately broke into tears. We spent five minutes or so talking about different organizational supports to try and implement to help her through this school year. Also throughout this conversation, she told me she had been keeping her academic struggle from her parents and felt a huge amount of shame. After encouraging her to talk with her family I sent her on her way. The next day she came back to class with a completely different personality. She was smiling and participating and laughing with the other students. She told me she talked with her family and they were able to sort things out and that she was thankful I took time to talk with her. What a huge sense of relief she had once she was open and honest with herself.

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  2. I really connect with Kim’s realization of “we often go through life measuring ourselves against unrealistic standards.” I think this is true for all walks of life; as parents, teachers, workers, spouses, and especially students/teens. I see so many of the kids, especially girls, at my high school measure their own self-worth by comparing themselves to peers. We all do this, I, like Kim, always felt like a “bad mom” when other kids brought homemade treats for birthday and my kids took the bakery cupcakes. I was raised in a traditional family with a stay-at-home mom so all those things were just a given for being a mother. This seems to happen with students also. They feel like they have to be good at everything all the time. It’s important for us to praise them even for the little things. I once praised a kid for returning his library book on time. This was the first time in three years he had managed such a task. I gave him a scented book mark and told him he was turning into a real bookie! He loved the extra attention and smiled from ear to ear. He became a regular library visitor and never turned his book in late again!

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  3. One thing my school does is make a big deal about each child's birthday. When you think about it, this is an excellent way to assure every child has their 'moment'--they might not each be able to meet an academic goal or make the honor roll, but EVERY student has a birthday! My first graders enjoy seeing their name posted in the hall way during their birth month, then listen for their name to be said on the exact day (or as close to it as possible, and we don't forget those that fall during vacation) during morning announcements when they are invited to come to the office for a birthday pencil. And of course I also do special things in the room, from a sleeve on their chair to their getting a 'dip' from the classroom treasure chest.

    My school also assigns a month each year to every grade level who is then responsible for doing a school-wide service project. These have ranged from raising money to go to a former alum for medical expenses when she suffered an accident to collecting dental supplies for the homeless to writing letters to our troops. This gives the students the chance to work together to support the needs of their community on a regular basis.

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  4. Taking an interest in a student shows that you care. It may be a small thing that you notice or a larger event that took place in their lives. A simple conversation can make someone’s day better.
    I give stickers out for A’s on tests and quizzes. Some students get a sticker every time, while some anticipate their first sticker. A mini celebration is held between that student and myself when they do get their first one. Most high school students like to get their stickers!
    Something else that I do in class is to use the students’ names in examples. They love hearing their own name and seeing their name used in a sentence on the board. I also write practice exercises that use everyone’s name in the same exercise. When they begin work, you can hear them, “Hey, look, she used all of our names! Check number 2 out.“ Again, it is a small thing but they notice that I go out of my way to give each person a little love.
    Daily encouragement is needed for all students. Some students feel that they can’t do anything right. A little encouragement can go along way as Melissa Wolfe described in her post.

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    1. My daughter is in my friend, Sandy's, class. She tells me little things she does on a regular basis to make the class more fun. Sandy is a great example of lifting up students in little and big ways. She also has a great sense of humor which makes others love being around her.

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    2. Thanks, Michelle. My job is so much easier when I have awesome students like your daughter! My third year Spanish classes are smaller than my other levels. I get to know these students over three years, so it is so easy to show them that they are all important to me.

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  5. I make sure to take the time to show students that I care-- pull them aside when I notice they are upset, greet them by name in the hallway every day. I make it a point to go to their extra curricular activities when I can and to ask them about how things go when they tell me about something. Every Friday, I ask them to ask a question, make a comment about what we learned, but also to jot me a note about their week. Those quick exit slips give me a lot of insight into what is going on with my students. Most of the time, they just tell me things like they are happy it's Friday, but sometimes, they are telling me more important details, like someone in their family past or they are struggling with friend situations.

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  6. One other thing I learned from Love and Logic was "I noticed" statements for developing relationships. Telling a student "I noticed you have on a purple shirt today." indicates they are noticed. You don't even have to compliment them about the shirt. It could be the ugliest shirt ever, just saying "I noticed..." builds a bond. Sometimes a student will respond, "So what?" or some variation, because we all know the students who need positive relationships with their teachers the most are usually the ones who fight it the most, then you simply respond, "Oh, just saying I noticed."

    I also feel it is important to be a stable and reliable person in their lives, especially when you need to discipline them for poor choices. If they can count on you to follow through with your words, they see that you care enough about them to make sure you are reliable. If I tell a student that I will do something, I must do it or at least make an honest attempt. When you are discipling a student, it needs to be done without anger or even the impression of anger. Letting the student know that once they've gotten their consequence, the issue is dead. You won't hold it against them in the future, you won't be upset with them. You might say, "You've damaged my trust in you and it will take you some time to earn it back." But, then give them the chance to earn it back. If students see you care enough to put it behind you, they can focus more on making better decisions and not on "the teacher doesn't like me" excuse.

    I also try to make a point of saying to an student when they returned from an absence that we missed them and are glad they're back. I believe that goes a long way in making students feel valued, appreciated, and noticed. Most kids don't even know how to take that the first time you do it, especially the frequently absent students, because it never crossed their mind in the past that someone was concerned about them when they were absent and missed their contributions.

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  7. I think it is important to show love to your students. I show love by pushing them to be the best person they can be. I require all my students turn in every assignment. I know some teachers who wouldn't work so hard to get a grade, but I want more for my students. I want them to learn to be accountable for their actions.

    Every morning I greet each student individually. I want them to know that I am excited to see them. I encourage my students to ask questions regularly. I know some teachers don't like being asked questions, but I want my students to feel safe enough and always be active learners. By allowing them to feel safe, I think that encourages them regularly and feel supported.

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    1. I so agree with your statements about pushing your students and making them turn in every assignment. It really shows your students that you care when you are after them to get that work. If you don't give up on them, then maybe they won't give up on themselves.

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  8. As a busy, constantly overcommitted teacher I find that sometimes it is easy for me to get so wrapped up in meetings, deadlines, paperwork, and creating my online curriculum, that sometimes the love quotient I am showing my students gets diminished, when it should be getting center stage. I also think this has a lot to do with class size. I notice that I am better at showing genuine concern and kindness in my two smaller classes than I am with the three large classes I teach. With the two smaller classes I don't feel as rushed or pressured, and I can take the time to ask a student an extra question about an activity I know he or she participates in, but with the larger classes it is all but impossible. As I've been finishing end of the nine weeks grades this week, I've been thinking that I may be taking more grades than I need to have for each student. I could replace grading littler assignments with time spent communicating and collaborating with my students. I remember working harder for teachers who interacted with me and encouraged me when I was in high school. I hope to instill that feeling in my students.

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    1. I can relate to what you said about showing more support/love to smaller classes. It's easy to do! I often find myself bonding with the students in smaller classes. With larger groups, you have to perhaps carve out the time to bond with those students on an individual basis. I'm still struggling with doing that.....

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  9. I am always here for my students, and I make sure that they are aware of that. I have one student who was going through some problems just last week. She told me that I was her favorite teacher because I always try to help. She said a lot of teachers just blow students off, but I actually do something. Well, why would I do something? I care for each of my students and want them to know that I am here for them. A lot of them don't have "the loving" component at home. Therefore, it's important that I make them feel special.

    In a previous school, my students were always providing to charitable organizations or others who were less fortunate. After Hurricane Katrina, my resource students made cookies and had some donated and sold them at lunch. They donated the profits to the Red Cross. The students were so proud that they were able to help out. One year for Valentine's Day, instead of trading cards, they brought in stuff that could be donated to the local Humane Society. We also had a book drive one Christmas to donate books for students who didn't have any. In all of these instances, the students took great ownership in what they did. They were proud of their efforts, as was I. They didn't expect anything in return. They liked the fact that they were able to help out others in need.

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    1. We are blessed to work at a school that shows students support and love! :) And I agree that many students don't feel that love and support at home, so it's up to us to fill that void for them - to validate them and show them that someone does in fact care about them, their opinions, their choices, and their future!

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  10. By building a relationship with my students from the very beginning of the semester, I show that I value each of them, their opinions, and what they have to offer. One way I show support is by writing letters of recommendation or being a reference on applications/resumes for students. I also purchase things when my students are involved in groups that are doing fundraising. I also show them how much I care and support them by what I reply or comment on their essays or even small writing assignments. I know that one thing I need to work on is attending more extra-curricular activities that my students are involved in. I don’t live in the same city that I teach in, and with a 4 year old, it’s hard to find the time to give up my evenings to attend athletic events, etc. But I know that it would be one way I could show support to my students.

    One way I model support and encouragement for students is by not allowing any defamation or bullying to go on in my classroom. I don’t allow any hate talk or what I would consider to be derogatory language to be spoken. Through this, and through class discussion, many of my students realize that we are here on earth to build each other up, not tear each other down. A lot of adolescents think that when they put someone down, they are lifted higher, when in fact it’s the opposite. I hope to show an environment in my classroom and to my students that the only way to raise yourself is to support and lift up those around you.

    Can I just say that Chapter 8 really hit home with me, as a working mother?! I am not a single mother, but my husband is an entrepreneur and owns his own company, which means he is rarely home. I love the quote on page 84, “we often go through life measuring ourselves against unrealistic standards.” Isn’t that the truth? Whether it be the struggles of motherhood, or of teaching. I feel overwhelmed a lot juggling the duties of being a wife, mother, and also the countless hours spent grading papers and lesson planning. I need to remember that it’s okay to not do everything perfectly, as Bearden says, it’s okay to order dinner in, or to let the dishes sit in the sink for a day.

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    1. I also loved the quote on page 84!! Those unrealistic standards can really make us feel as if we will never measure up and never be good enough. Sometimes it is nice to hear someone say that it is okay to order dinner in and leave the messy house for later. I always find it nice and reassuring when I find someone else is going through the same thing - it is good not to be alone :)

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    2. Sarah,
      It does get easier as children get older. I remember taking my then two-year-old daughter to contract negotiations meetings, trying to keep her entertained and myself focused. I often felt bad about the domestic/crafty things I wasn't doing at the time because I didn't have extra time. Now I am much easier on myself; the most important thing is love, and she knows I love her. Two books I remember reading as a younger mom that made me feel better were Confessions of a Slacker Mom and I Don't Know How She Does It. They both made me smile.

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  11. I try to build relationships in a variety of ways. When I'm walking down the halls I greet students by name and tell them good morning or comment on a new shirt or pair of shoes. For some students that could be the only positive adult interaction they have. I work with seniors and write each one a birthday card with a positive comment and also a piece of laffy taffy or an airhead. Many students come up and thank me personally for the card. I try to compliment students after a performance (music, theater, academic, sports, etc).

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  12. I agree with what so many people have already posted. Building relationships is so important and a great way to support and encourage your students. I do many of the things other people have mentioned: call kids by name in the hallway, compliment them on something new, pulling aside struggling students, pushing them to get work done. I also try to really connect with my homeroom students. The other day I was eating my apple at lunch and had students in my room working on missing assignments. One boy struck up a conversation with me about apples...he is in my homeroom and I told him that he needed to get back to his assignment but that we would organize an apple day for our homeroom. In homeroom that day, he helped organize every one...bring your own apple, I would bring the caramel!! It was so fun we did it two days in a row since I had plenty of caramel. I even had students sharing their apple with students that had forgotten. Homeroom is a great time for conversation and getting to know some of my students better. We decided it would be fun for each person in our homeroom to decide on the activity we do each week. This way everyone gets a chance to do something they like.

    I think working on service learning is really important. I am not very good at this and would like to be better but like many I get bogged down in the paperwork, standards, and how much needs to be done each day. Our students need to give back to others and see how important it is to work together to make someone else happy or to give someone else something they need. When I think back to the service learning that has gone on in my own life, it has made me the person that I am. I want to help my students grow and learn to give back to others. I am just not sure how to do that at my class room level.

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  13. While putting in grades last week, I became very frustrated at the amount of low grades that I saw across the grade book. I knew I had tried as hard as I could to motivate, teach, support and encourage my students, but looking at the grades and the amount of missing work I became so discouraged. I was talking to my husband saying that I just could not believe the amount of kids who just did not turn assignments in and how I felt like I have failed them. Where did I go wrong? I know that the students are responsible for their grades and turning work in, but I also know that I hold a great responsibly in these things as well. As I was staring at my computer screen, my 11 year old son stopped doing his homework, walked over to me and said " Mom, don't feel bad about a few bad grades. You do the most important thing you can do, you go to school everyday and teach them. You always do your best, don't be sad." I stopped pouting right then and knew that I needed to walk into school the next day and start motivating the students to do better the next 9 weeks, not walk into the classroom discouraged and angry.
    I want each of my students to succeed, and I have a hard time realizing that my abilities can only go so far in reaching that goal. Understanding that for each student "success" means a different thing can really change how I look at grades. By getting to know each one of my students and showing them that I care about what is going on in their lives I can help to motivate them to do their personal best and not compare them to how other students are doing. At home I have learned that all three of my children need different forms of love and discipline. It is exhausting and I am still figuring it out after 14 years, but I know I won't stop trying. The same thing applies at school, after only a few weeks I know who needs a little extra mothering, some encouragement, a friend, a smile, a congratulatory " Hooray!! You got a B on the quiz!!" You have to figure out how you can support and encourage and love them so they can perform at their very best.

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  14. It is going to sound cliché but I try to show support and love for my students by being there for them. When I am teaching my classes I try to stay completely focused on them and to stay in the moment with them. There are times that I even forget that an administrator is in my room evaluating me because it should always be about the students: first, last, and always.

    This is so much easier to write than to do. As everyone in this book-club knows, we are pulled so many ways and have so many hats to wear that it takes talent to juggle it all. Honestly, it is so much easier to balance my work- load now that my children are grown. I admire those teachers who are still raising their own children and trying to keep up with this fast-paced career.

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  15. As I think about showing love to students, I am reminded of the "Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman, based on the idea that people have a preferred way that they understand kindness being shown to them. Some students fall into the 'quality time' category; they are most pleased when I listen to their stories or sit with them as they complete assignments. Others greatly appreciate when I give them items such as school supplies. While not all of the love languages can apply to school life, I have observed that some students like words of praise in public and others prefer when I quietly acknowledge them with comments on their assignments or as they are leaving class. Our love is accepted by different people in different ways, and I have found with 8th graders patience is the grandest expression of love. After witnessing a troubled classmate create a stir a few weeks ago, a student said to me, "I don't know how you teachers do it." Some days I don't see a correlation, but I hope modeling patience with my students makes them likewise patient with me.

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  16. I really like to encourage students by telling them that I believe in them. Even when they get something wrong, I like to respond by telling them that I know that they can do it correctly, and give them suggestions to help them accomplish it themselves. I also look for students who seem to be struggling (by facial expressions, body movements, etc.) when they walk into class and then I like to focus on them for my positive remarks for the class period. I also like to bring them out of the classroom to let them know that I am willing to help them however I can with whatever struggle they are having.

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  17. When the class is nearly over and students are putting their stuff away, I try to make my way around the room and have conversations with different students. This helps me get to know them better, and they will usually talk about their interests. I also always try to tell students the next day that they played great in the game last night or their performance was excellent in the concert. As some others have commented, I also like to go out of my way to welcome students back after they have been absent. I want them to feel that they were missed, and I want to do everything in my power to get them caught on the material they were not present for.

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  18. Many of my students come to me and put their arms around me for a hug. I do not stop a student from doing this unless it is in a middle of a lesson. There are more times then I can count where I pull a student aside to give them the extra time they need for someone to listen to them. We do not have sponsors or money for expensive trips but being there when they need someone says you care for them and they are loved. Praising a student for the littlest thing can really make their day and does not cost anything.

    At the end of my classes I have the students tell three to four other students something that they did well in class. Even if it is the smallest thing like laugh at a joke. Hopefully my students will continue to support and encourage when they leave my classroom.

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  19. One way I show my students I support them is by writing back to them in their daily journals. The kids love opening up the journals and I love seeing their smiling faces. I set a goal each day to give X amount of compliments to my students and to be the best teacher I can be. I may be the only one to give them a hug, high five, or compliment within that day or week. I try to set my students up for positive interactions during classroom discussions of a book or whatever. And I try to make sure they are praised for correct answers and supported when they are wrong. I just try to always remind myself I might be their only positive light in their life.

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  20. A performance based class like band is a great place to show and model encouragement and support for the students. When kids volunteer to try a short solo or to demonstrate a skill for the class on their instrument, we always applaud for them. At the very least, it recognizes their effort. I also try to make sure to point out things students are doing well, even if the most encouraging words are "you had good posture today." For some kids, it may be the only time they hear applause or positive comments all day. After our concert last winter, I had the students write a letter to another student, complimenting them on some aspect of the performance. I shared some of the compliments out loud to the class as well as passed them along to the deserving recipients. It's a much nicer atmosphere in class to try to be encouraging and supportive of each other rather than cutting one another down for the mistakes made.

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  21. Echoing other comments, I also try to take time to write little messages on my students' papers and journal entries. Teaching English provides many opportunities to communicate on a more private level with students. The messages are meant to encourage students, but I also think just providing proof that I actually took time to really read their work helps encourage them. Talking with them is also important. This past week, I returned Informative papers to my freshmen. Instead of just handing the papers back, I got the rest of the class going on an independent activity and sat down to talk with each student about what went right and what went wrong. Sometimes these conversations are a little difficult, but they are necessary and they help students set goals for what needs to be accomplished on future assignments.

    I can also relate to the chapter on Love and Kim's comments about being all things to all people. I was a full-time stay-at-home mom for ten years before I became a teacher. My return to full-time work was a big adjustment for my family, but I now realize that they were happy to make that adjustment. Once I learned how to say no to things, organize my time, and release the idea that I had to be everything to everyone, I was able to release a lot of stress. The result was that I became a better mom and a better teacher.

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  22. I feel relationships are built on love and support for one another. As previously discussed, I try yo build relationships with my students from the beginning. Even before my students enter my room, I send a letter home to my students, opening up about myself, what to expect in my classroom, and how I am looking forward to getting to know them! Love and support continually grows through the big things but also the little ones. I truly believe that sometimes the little things have just as big of an impact and can go a long way! As others have mentioned, using students names when greeting them, complimenting them on a new change (haircut, backpack, missing tooth,etc), telling them you missed them, taking the time to let them share stories, their weekend, etc with me. I really like what Mr. Cockrum said about the "I noticed" statements above. I also enjoy greeting my students at the door each morning, and per practice they could choose a hug, a handshake, or a high five! I always created many opportunities through teach day for the students to support me, me support them, and them to work together and support each other!

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  23. One way that I have found to help encourage my kindergartners is just making sure they feel successful with at least one thing during our 30 minute session. Even if I have to make sure they pick a certain card in our memory game because I know they know only one letter of the alphabet. The smiles that are pasted on their faces when they get it right is priceless. I also make sure I tell each student that I look forward to seeing them tomorrow and thanks for working hard. It is just a simple way to encourage them and build their self esteem.

    On another note, I enjoyed reading Kim's story in Chapter 8 about bringing the wrong snacks for her daughter's browning meeting. This story made me think of my personal life. I'm a full time working mother of a 3 year old. One of the hardest things I've had to learn in being a mother is not to compare myself to other mothers. I feel probably a lot of us mothers feel this way. We need to learn to encourage each other as mothers instead of having feelings of inadequacy or not being the best all the time. My daughter has shown be time and time again that she loves me even though I'm not at home with her. This makes me think of Kim saying the best part of teaching at RCA is seeing how the students work together and support each other. This can be applied to all aspects of our lives - as a teacher, a mother, a wife, etc.

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  24. I try to support my students in all aspects of their lives. I try to get to know each one of them on a personal level. I am fortunate to work in a school that has strong, supportive, and loving parents but for some kids the only love they feel each day is from their teacher. I have a student currently dealing with an ill grandparent. I am glad we have a good relationship and that student feels comfortable talking to me about the situation. I want to know my students on a personal level anyway. I like to ask them how their game was, dance recital was, birthday party was, etc. In turn, I like to share events from my personal life with my students. If a problem arises with a student down the road I think it's much easier to deal with if you've established a loving relationship. They know you are there to help them, not out to get them.

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  25. Creating an environment where kids feel safe is my number one priority. When kids know they matter and their feelings matter, an environment of learning comes easier. I really try my best to greet every kid that comes into my classroom. Asking, “How are you today?” literally takes seconds and matters more than you may know now. When a kid is clearly having a bad day, I make an effort, at some point in the day, to ask what’s going on with that student. I always preface this with, you don’t have to tell me anything, but I am here to listen if you need me to do so. When we have class discussion in my room maybe in regards to a novel we are reading, I say ‘this is a safe place’, and I mean that. Being kind matters. Showing that you care, matters. I have a million favorite quotes, but one that resonates deeply with me as a teacher is this one:
    I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
    -Maya Angelou
    I have realized more than anything, taking a few moments to care matters more than ‘getting through my lesson’. We will get through the lesson with more ease if we are willing to give those moments to our students.

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  26. What better field to share love and support than teaching? Our business is to encourage learning and growth and the best way to do that is to lift each individual up. Band provides many opportunities for elevation. Learning to play an instrument can be very overwhelming. Massive amounts of encouragement are needed when students first begin. I like to move around the band room and listen and observe the students as they play. This allows me to make individual comments to students and give them tips to improve on a more personal level. Every little improvement I treat as a milestone, and of course a smile and a nod of approval go a long way. I have nifty little sticker dispensers that look like Wite-Out tape, but have messages on them instead of the correction tape. When you roll it on their music books, it leaves a trail of stars and smiley faces, or compliments, “Good work!” or “Awesome.” The kids just love these. The older students have more techniques to learn. Like Katherine stated above, I also recognize students’ improvement by giving individuals the opportunity to demonstrate the appropriate way to play a line for the rest of the class. I have also been known to be a bit melodramatic and wipe an imaginary tear of joy from my eye. By the time the students reach high school band, I have usually discovered what makes them feel loved and how to elevate their self-esteem. It could be a smile, a kind word, or something as simple as a thumbs-up.

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  27. I feel inadequate at times and my children are all grown! Too much to do in too little time, for both school and home. Love is the key to keeping it together. God makes it possible in my life. When my children were small I was a stay at home mom and didn’t begin working until they were all in school. It was the right choice for my family. I hope that when they look back at their childhoods they see the love and joy that surrounded them. Now, as a grandma who 1,000 miles away from the grandchildren I gmail chat, facetime and send love over the miles.
    Love is not just for home though. Somehow my hope is that the children I spend hours a day with for 183 days know that they are respected, encouraged and cared for. That their success means a lot to their teacher. Maybe an experience at school will be the journey they take for the rest of their lives.
    Generosity seems to get crushed in the speed of life for me. This chapter reminded me of what giving is and when you give more is given.

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  29. I have had some pretty rough classes in my day and they are usually the freshmen. Still immature and growing, and very annoying at times. They were always so mean to each other and always gave attitude. I had a conversation one day about their behavior and basically told them that if they don't like the way their classmates are treating them then they need to take a look at themselves. I explained that their negativity they put out only brings negativity and they needed take a look at their own actions and words as well. I also had them each write one sentence saying something positive about their peers. Those that couldn't come up with anything because they didn't like them were the kids who were always causing the drama in class. I gave them my lecture and hoped that it would sink in one day!

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  30. Every year that I have taught, I have hand written a letter to each of my students. It is amazing to see the looks on their faces as they read the letters. Many of them have rarely received positive comments from others, none the less in a hand written letter. It is just one of the many ways I show my students throughout the year that I care about them.

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  31. I believe that love and support are the foundations for my successful classroom. Like the quote, "they won't care how much you know until they know how much you care", my kiddos thrive on positive reinforcement and genuine comments. (I teach 4th so most students still want to please the teacher.) I try every day to be sure I have helpful and caring interactions with each of my students. That sounds easy when I have them all day, but there are so many obstacles with the amount if " stuff" to be done each day and then there are those students who just demand more of your time. One of my students is so quiet that if I didn't reach out to her we could go days with out speaking. My sincere hope is that my students feel my compassion and love through my daily actions and also my kind words.

    I can so relate to Kim's snack story. I find myself comparing myself to others all the time; both as a mom and as a teacher. Switching grade levels so much has left me feeling overwhelmed and I don't feel like I have the time to be as creative or inventive as I used to be. I feel guilty that I'm not doing what some other teachers are doing. These thoughts are not just unproductive, they are destructive. It is a constant struggle to take a deep breath, take the school year one week at a time, and focus on doing the best I can for my class.

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  32. When I first started teaching, I was totally unprepared to become a "surrogate mom!" Middle school students have so many needs and occasionally want questions answered that they are afraid to ask at home, fearing that their parents will think they are actually participating in certain behaviors. My students have always known that I have a son and daughter, so the door has always been open for support and the occasional reality check. We've created relationships that allow for lots of laughter, tears, letters, cards, invitations, food, cheering, support....I just wanted to let my students know that I cared more about them as people than as students who simply passed through my classroom.

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  33. I feel like I show love to the students on a daily basis. It is amazing how many of them do not have a typical family with a mom and dad. On the first day of my Title groups, I had the students fill out a getting-to-know-you paper. I had them draw everyone that lives in their house. Many live with grandparents or on parent. I try to be the mom away from home and give them the extra love and listening ear that they might need. It is usually these kids that end up in the bottom of the class and need the extra help academically.

    I am more generous with my time outside of the classroom. I volunteer in a local facility that packs up clothing to send to orphanages in India and the Ukraine. Giving time and resources to "the least of these" helps keep things in perspective.

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  34. I have totally changed my perspective on this issue. I have always loved my students deeply. However, I used to be very hands-off. No hugs- stay out of my physical bubble. And obviously, as teachers you have to be wise about physical contact with students. However, I had some student situations last year with children from terrible home lives- they came in needing a hug from time to time as the tragedy of their life played out. It affected their classroom lives. I couldn't avoid it. The loving thing to do was an appropriate hug, in the presence of other witnesses- sometimes kids need an appropriate adult loving gesture. Like Becky said, sometimes you have to be the Mom they don't have at home. I also show love beyond hugs- I tell them every Friday "I love you, be safe, see you on Monday"- and I explain to them at the start of the year WHY- I have had students leave on Friday and not come back on Monday (accidental death, moved, etc.) and I know some of them are on their own all weekend so I want them to remember that they are loved. It freaks a few of them out at first, but we have created a culture where it's OK to say "I love you" to each other- and since they are 6th graders, I go overboard to make sure they understand the appropriate context.

    As far as generosity, I don't know very many teachers that ARE NOT above and beyond generous with their time. Probably too much at times. One of my favorite ways is Operation Christmas Child- I talk about it with my students, how neat it is to pack and track the shoebox, and we've made it a family tradition for years.

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  35. As an elementary principal I find that this is super easy. I do sincerely love my students and I think I show them that on a regular basis with hugs, smiles, encouragement, and tons of positive praise. This is my favorite part of my job and it comes naturally. Simply by taking an interest in what the students like shows how much you care for them. It's important to take some time to listen to some stories even though you never feel like you have time to do so.

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  36. Showing support and love for kids is the best part of teaching. I always try to speak to my students as they come into the room. I ask how they are doing and listen when they want to share with me. I smile, laugh and joke with them, and when I get a student who is in situations where they need help I let others know.

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  37. (I apologize if this posts twice but it didn't show up when I published it)
    Being a computer lab teacher and having 900+ students a week walk through my doors, it is not the easiest to have close "bonded" relationships with any of them. However, showing them love and giving encouragement is one of the easiest parts of my job. From going to my door and waving at them as they walk by my room with their class to simply giving hugs in the hallway to waving at them at the grocery store and calling them by name, those are easy ways to show I care. I encourage them to to do their best and when I know someone has an extra-curricular activity I try to let them know how amazing it is that they are involved in that activity.
    As far as encouragement goes to co-workers, I am always trying to praise teachers in front of students. I might tell them how much I like their new colorful Fall bulletin board, or let the class know what talented artists they are and the way the teacher arranged their artwork really made it stick out. I know it hurts when you put a lot of effort into something and no one notices (at least that is how you feel) so I like to make it a point to tell others their hard work is appreciated.

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  38. I try to show love for students just by trying to point out any time they've excelled, but not so much with the standout student, but the one who finally got it. I had a student who missed a lot of school but who was an amazing programming and excellent with coding. I tried my best to make over him about how good he was at it, and how much money he could make doing something that not many people can do. I try to point out and follow student activities as well. Most kids know I love sports, so they seem to light up that I can relate to something they love as well. I've also went to concerts and performances and tried to make over those kids about how awesome they were and that I could never do anything like that.

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  39. What a refreshing chapter! At the risk of being cliché; All you need is LOVE! It is such a simple idea but has SO much truth. If a student does not feel love, there is no self worth and no desire to succeed. Why would anyone want to perform for someone if there was no love. It is so important to show students love as much as possible. It is so easy to do, commenting on something they are wearing, asking about their weekend or showing them any sign that you NOTICE them and value them as individuals. I always try to attend any event outside of the classroom that they may be involved in such as a sporting event. This shows that you are genuinely interested in who they are and what they like which translates as love.
    I liked the part of the chapter in which it referred to comparing ourselves to others. How destructive this can be! For teachers as well as students, comparing ourselves to others is a recipe for disaster! We need to remind our students that they are individuals. By showing them individually that we care about them and love them, this can hopefully negate any negative feelings that we gather from inevitably comparing ourselves to our peers.

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  40. The chapter on love really is true. So many parents do everything for their children. I realized just how much as my children were growing up. I would hear from other parents about how they were up all night checking every math problem, rewriting a paper or making some project. I was in shock. I didn't do any of that. If my 4th grader had a project to turn in - then the teacher was going to get a project from a 4th grader. My children could read the rubric of the project and were always able to make something. It may not as looked as good as some of the others but they did get an A on it and they learned so many skills. My children knew I would not do their homework and they would tell me whose parents would. I love the letter from the parents who knew they had to step away. It was the best thing they did for their children.

    The chapter on generosity was nice to read. It is always important to show your students how much you value them. From a smile to a how are you today can do wonders. I try to move around the room as much as possible while they are working so that they can see how much I do want to help them succeed. I try to focus in on a few different students each day and make sure that their questions are being answered.

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  41. I think I have the best job in the school because I am the librarian and I get to see all of the students in grades K-5 each week. Basically, I get to watch them grow up and that is so rewarding to see how they change and how they stay the same. I greet each class with a smile and welcome and I treat them like I would want to be treated if I were a student using the library. When students are checking out books, I ask them how they are doing and sometimes I just get a "fine" but sometimes it leads to a more involved story or conversation. I always wish the students a good day or weekend if it is a Friday and tell them I will see them next week. I want them to know that I look forward to seeing them again and that they are special to me. I try to learn about students special interests such as the Titanic, sports, drawing, horses, cars, dirt bikes, hunting, etc and let them know when a new book comes in that they might be interested in. I give and receive high fives and hugs which are always special. I have some kids who come by every day for their daily hug. To me, that's what it's all about - showing kids that they are loved and special.

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  42. I love the one about love. Some of the best lessons I have the opportunity to teach have to do with life and love and generosity and being a good person and much less about what an adverb clause is.

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  43. I love the idea of what Kari mentioned, of saying, "I love you, be safe, see you on Monday." This is so true that sometimes things happen and we are unable to see them again for whatever reason. I have been told that I have always been very motherly, even prior to having children. I believe that I typically emulate this same behavior in my classroom. I know that a lot of students that I have/do work with do not have a positive mother figure in their life and I try to be this for them. I have found that kids perform better in my classroom when they feel "loved" and they truly want to do well for me. At the end of the year, last year, I had a student write that I was their safe place at school as well as their "mom." This particular student has a great home life, wonderful parents, a great relationship with her mom, etc. I have to think that often we think of the kids that don't have a role model in the home, let's not forget about the kids that do and just like and appreciate the feeling of coming to school knowing they feel loved too. I understand that there are students that certainly need it more than others, but it truly can benefit everyone. I would love for them to remember all the things I've taught them, remember the way I treated them and it would be the cherry on top if they remembered both!!

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  44. The team I am on, like a school mentioned above, really celebrates our student's birthdays. In Social Studies class, they create a poster that has information they researched from the day they were born on it. On the student's birthday, we display the poster and attach a bag of cookies to it. The kids like to sing Happy Birthday to each other at this time. Our school also puts birthdays of staff and students on the morning announcements as well. It's nice to hear "happy birthday's" throughout the day and really makes us feel like a family.
    I also think just engaging a student in conversation or telling them to have a great day or asking them about their weekend can make them feel special at times. I know when a student asks me personally how my weekend went, it makes me feel happy inside.

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  45. I always try to remember that each one of my students is the MOST special thing to their parents, and I try to treat them that way! In addition to knowing all about each child's academic journey, I try to know all about their families as well. Who do they live with? Brothers and sisters? What are there names? Do they do things outside of school like dance or sing or play baseball? Kindergarten children think their teachers are magic anyway, and when we take a true interest in their lives, it is just sooo special!
    I also greet my students in the hallway each morning when they come into school (even though I have a million things I can do on the computer, in my classroom, at my desk...to get ready for the day!) That 2 second greeting makes a difference for each of my children and if I somehow miss one, they make sure I see them with a "Hey you didn't tell me good morning!" Something special that's done school wide: our principal and parish priest both stand in front of school from 7:45-8:15 each morning and greet each student as they are dropped off in the morning (we are mostly car riders.) They open the car door, say good morning, and usher each child inside. They know every child by name! I really think our kids know how special they are to us!

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  46. Showing love is the most important part of teaching. The way I speak and act at school is so important. The kids give it back 100x better than I give it to them. The hugs, "I love yous", etc. are so sweet. I told my own kids that I'm a "celebrity" to the kids at school. They show such love! This is because they need it SO much. They do so much better when they know they are encouraged and loved. Honestly there is negativity from a lot of staff in our building but the kids keep me going, just seeing their excitement and enthusiasm.

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  47. Chapter 8 and the encouraging post about teaching moms, made me cry,. Really. I have found myself, overcommitted, challenging class, numerous meetings, committees, Iill for a week, etc. thus the reason for getting behind in my reading and postings. I was feeling like I was becoming , all over again, a slacker mom with my son after both my girls left for college. Guilt, trying to do it all and involving myself in all his events and volunteering for my son, "the surprise child." Stressing myself out and not sleeping started to take its toll. My daughter was able to visit for fall break and inquired as to why all my emotions and feelings of guilt. She was surprised that I thought I was not showing enough or being enough of a mom to her brother. She set me straight as she shared all the ways and times she felt and feels loved and never wished one day that I wasn't a teacher. She reassured me he won't either. Wow, wished I knew then what I now know! Last weekend, my son and I had the best weekend I felt we have had in a very long time. I changed my thinking and unrealistic self expectations. I took my daughters advice. I am trying to utilize the same at school. I've decided to be realistic that I may not reach all students, but I will try to allow love and empathy for my students whether I'm instructing, correcting, or helping them struggle. I best explained this recently, with my students through the analogy of the butterfly story. Butterfly Story . . . our struggles make us stronger!
    “A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.
    So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.
    The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
    What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
    Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly!”
    –Author Unknown

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  48. I believe that talking to students about things that interest them, things that they care about, their families, and things that are going on in their own lives shows them a great amount of encouragement and support. I always made sure to ask my students how they were doing and genuinely listen to their answers. Sharing stories about our lives brought great connections in my classroom between everyone.

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  49. I did a book study on “How to Steal a Dog.” It was a wonderful insight to love and support systems. We had meaningful conversations about how material items are not everything. Being supportive, caring, and kind show more love than items. We spent a lot of time discussing reasons behind the things I do. For example, I keep spare snacks in my room for everyone. The students never realized why I did this besides just being nice. I explained to them that even though you may not know it, some families can’t afford to buy snacks. So instead of pointing those kids out, I offer to anyone. Some days, students may forgot their snacks; other days, students may have an extra snack and donate it. After having this discussion, many students realized that it could be embarrassing for students who can’t afford snacks to have to ask for food. This conversation brought a huge amount of relief to my students who need that “everyday” snack. Now, they don’t feel like they stick out. I try to point out things that I do to encouragement others to be encouraging.

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  50. In this chapter I made more of a connection personally. My husband and I have two boys, one 19 and one 16. Our youngest has mild LD and is now in High School on a special program for completion.
    In our dreams of parenthood we never anticipated the direction that our children would end up taking and it is very hard when you set certain expectations and then those change drastically. Our oldest had a very hard time in high school and even with lots of help, support and love he barely graduated. Poor choices and home situations were part of that struggle. It is hard to stand firm in your parental convictions yet love unconditionally!!! We have had extremely hard times and very exciting peaks. We are in no way out of the woods and I am still learning to set certain standards but let him know I will always love him. He knows that there can still be disappointment but also love. It is hard to let him learn life lessons and fall. I pray daily that out these hard circumstances that he will be a stronger adult. We still don't know how this will pan out but I do know that he always knows that he has parents that love and support good choices. .the poor choices he has to take responsibility for and learn from.
    My youngest with his disabilities, is still unknown direction for his future. He continues to amaze us with his growth and maturity. Each year he makes new strides. A few years ago we didn't think he would be able to attend college and now we are starting to see growth in areas and with new programs in some universities we are starting to see a different future for him.
    I have learned a parent (and it has helped my teaching as well) to continue to love and believe that all things are possible. They are not easy and they are not always the path we expected but all things are possible depending on how you see them.

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  51. I work hard to create a community of learners in my classroom. Math can be a difficult subject. Even when you understand the concepts, simple computational mistakes can interfere with a good grade. I let my students work in small groups and encourage them to help each other. I help one student and then ask that same student to turn around and help another. More students get help and support and all students gain in confidence when they get a turn to be the “helper”.
    While teaching I encourage students to ask questions. Since I teach a group of struggling students, it is easy to teach them to ask questions. No one laughs, because I do not roll my eyes or ever behave that any of their questions are ridiculous. I thank the student for the question and say “I am sure others in the room have this same question”. Since I believe this to be true, my classroom becomes a safe place to ask questions. I get all kinds of questions! 
    My students work together with me to conquer the math. This is how I encourage and support my students.  

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