George Couros, education leader, author, and speaker, shared two tweets he has seen that remind him how important it is to create a safe, caring space for students in our schools and classrooms.
Despite the slick, social-media facade of a fantastic life that most of our students post online, many of them are living out a reality far less perfect, and far more lonely than they let on. Many of them live out teen years of quiet desperation as they click or swipe past everyone else’s public profile of perfection, and wonder why their lives don’t measure up. Our classrooms can either be a place that adds to that loneliness and sense of being something “Less,” or it can be a place where our students feel welcome, included, and worthy.
“I’m glad you’re here.” It is such a powerful stance to take with our students. For some you may be the one person today who is sincerely glad to see them. For others, your example of inclusive acceptance and cheerful welcome may inspire them to be more welcoming and kind as well. Being positive and welcoming, is incredibly powerful. It’s not always easy, though. Sometimes you’re not necessarily happy to see that difficult student who routinely disrupts the learning environment. And kids are generally smart enough to tell when we’re faking it. When I was a classroom teacher, I made it a practice to intentionally, purposefully take a moment each morning before students arrived to check my mindset and decide to be positive and welcoming, especially towards any student I was struggling with in my classroom. It wasn’t perfect, but overall, it helped me be mentally and emotionally ready to start the day on a welcoming note with each student. Meeting students with love and acceptance and welcome, often changes their attitude for the better as well, resulting in a better day for you and them.
Richard Davidson, founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, writes: “There are now a plethora of data showing that when individuals engage in generous and altruistic behavior, they actually activate circuits in the brain that are key to fostering well-being,” says Davidson. In short, simple acts of kindness won’t just make others happier, they will make you happier, too.”
Kindness and acceptance may come easy and natural at times, but sometimes, we just have to decide it’s important enough to work at it.