50 Ways Teachers Can Show Kids They Love Them

50 Ways Teachers Can Show Kids They Love Them

In the first 20 seconds of the new school year, your students learn two things about you: how you feel about kids and how much you love your job.  This is something I talk about in presentations to teachers around the country. We have such a short moment to cast that first impression, but we have the entire year to build upon it. In honor of #LoveTeaching week, I invited the new teachers I work with to tell me what happens after that first impression. I also wanted to know other ways they show their love to students. Here are 50 of their awesome and surprising responses:

  1. Run a tight ship.
  2. Don’t let missing supplies, handouts, or materials stand in between you and the learning you need kids to do each day. Provide what’s missing so you can teach.
  3. Make student learning goals super clear. No mysteries!
  4. Make the first and last minutes of your days about connecting with kids.
  5. Keep a clean (smelling) work space.
  6. Double the amount of time you laugh in class.
  7. Dress sharply.
  8. Build in student choice wherever and whenever you can.
  9. Smile at them often.
  10. Limit teacher sprawl. It’s their room too.
  11. Post your diplomas and degrees.
  12. Have a GREAT answer daily for the “Why do we have to do this?” question.
  13. Shut down anti-teacher talk when kids try to gossip.
  14. Take an active interest in their parents/guardians.
  15. Make your curriculum and your class libraries represent the kids you teach.
  16. Ask better questions. Expect better answers.
  17. Flex your tests. Strike bad questions. Ask kids to critique your tests and listen to what they say.
  18. At least once, do a hard thing they have to do, like a weekly long run or a lab.
  19. Allow retakes, do-overs, and late work.
  20. Bring every random student tangent back to the lesson.
  21. Freshen your lessons every single year.
  22. Give students work worth doing.
  23. Greet all humans you encounter at work.
  24. Go to conferences and workshops. Get better at this craft.
  25. Share your hopes and dreams with your students.
  26. Role model goal setting and goal getting with your students.
  27. Run a just classroom and safe community for your learners.
  28. Let kids choose their partners and groups when possible.
  29. Help kids imagine their futures and the pathways to them.
  30. Don't be afraid to say “I don’t know.”
  31. Walk past kids in the hall or at lunch and say “I’m hearing good things.” Even if you aren’t, that phrase will be transformative. Trust me.
  32. Stand up to racist teachers and systems that oppress your students.
  33. Be active in the school community.
  34. Learn and use a new strategy or teaching technique every year.
  35. Have food and clean clothes on hand for student emergencies.
  36. Be a safe haven for students who need it.
  37. Teach kids how to accept a compliment or a gift, to say sorry and thank you.
  38. Say “yes” as often as possible.
  39. Partner with your principal to bring good things to your classroom, school, and their lives.
  40. Take good care of your own health, wellness, and happiness.
  41. Build in lots of feedback loops in your classes.
  42. Don’t get angry when the lesson goes wrong or kids don’t get it the first time.
  43. Use your passion and enthusiasm to help kids love your subject like you do.
  44. Keep your language polite, clear, professional, invitational.
  45. Ask kids how they’re doing, then listen carefully to the answers.
  46. Keep your expectations high and consistent for all students.
  47. Give grace and compassion to the kids in your room.
  48. Model curiosity, delight, wonder, and gratitude daily.
  49. Don’t quit on kids, ever.
  50. Give kids the gift of a better tomorrow, for you and for them.

It’s easy to say that love simply looks like smiles, small acts of kindness, or custom handshakes at the door. It turns out we have so much more power to weave our love into everything we do-from designing units, to demonstrating pride about our own education, to modeling humanity inside the walls of our classrooms. What a glorious job we’ve chosen -this thing called teaching.  I hope you love it as much as I do and revel in all the ways we get to show it.

Rebecca Mieliwocki is the author of Adventures in Teacher Leadership: Pathways, Strategies and Inspiration for Every Teaching (ASCD) and the 2012 California and National Teacher of the Year.  A veteran middle school English teacher, Rebecca is currently a teacher on special assignment with Burbank Unified School District specializing in new teacher induction and secondary professional development. She is on the board of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) and is a vocal advocate for excellent California teachers.  She is a wife, a mother, and the deliriously happy best friend to her first puppy Marlo.  






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