Although I express gratitude daily, this past holiday season has me thinking about how grateful I am for every opportunity I have, every ounce of love in my heart and all the “stuff” (what I call “fluff”) we own. With three kids at home and generous grandparents, you can imagine the amount of gifts my children received at Christmas. It makes me sick. Every year, my husband and I ask our parents to cut back because we want our kids to realize what is truly important in this world. How we can help others and the importance of being kind.
As I look around me and realize how lucky I am to have everything I need, I think of those students who don’t have their basic needs met. Whether it be a lunchbox full of sugar (or no lunch at all), not having the proper clothing for our harsh winter weather, or the lack of meaningful relationships at home, I think of my students all the time and how they are spending their break, knowing far too well, that a few would rather be at school learning and exploring with their peers.
I know some students who have built significant relationships at school who are living difficult situations at home find being on “break” tough. This is true during Winter Break, Spring Break and especially before school breaks for the summer. Sometimes the lack of routine and the unknown causes them to be anxious, because not all students’ breaks are filled with family, friends and “fluff”.
This year, I am lucky to have all of my students’ parents connected to Seesaw. This app is one of my favourite tools to use in class, and my first grade students love adding to their digital portfolios. With the tap of a few green check marks, messages are added, photos delivered, videos uploaded and learning is proven. I’ve always known and believed that building significant relationships and developing secure attachments with our students is critical. Without having their heart, you cannot possibly get to their minds. I believe we are all familiar with Dr. James Comer’s quote “No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship”. A person who has influenced me greatly always said, “students won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. These similar messages are also conveyed in all of my recent readings. From Dive Into Inquiry by Trevor Mackenzie, or any of the books from Dave Burgess Consulting Inc., it’s safe to say we (should) all agree with this message. Building positive relationships with students is the root of their success.
I encourage the teachers who read this to connect with their students over break. I have. For the students who are fortunate to have it all at home, send them a message with a hook (I love #tlap) to have them look forward to what awaits them in class when they return. My hook is a special guest who will be spending a week with us in our classroom (my ball python they’ve been waiting for EVER to meet… but they’ll only know who once they walk through the door)! Whether it be by email, by Seesaw or any other tool you use, reach out and communicate with them. Who knows, for some of your students, you may be one of the few who took the time to truly connect with them in a meaningful way.