Monday, June 27, 2011

Love in the Classroom

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about a local third grade teacher (I'll call her Ms. Jones) who was beloved by her students.  I mentioned the blog to Ms. Jones and several days later received the following e-mail:

"I am speechless as to how I have affected those students you spoke with.
I am thankful I have made them feel loved.  It is true that I do make an effort to like the students, and especially
to let them know that I do.  Students learn better when they know they are liked/loved!  I didn't realize the impact I had on them
even after 3rd grade!  Thank you for sharing that with me, and writing about it.  I will return and read it often, especially on difficult days."

About a week later at a party I met a parent who was home schooling her children, except for her third grader who had asked to be able to go with his friends to the public school this year, because he wanted to have a particular teacher.  The mother hadn't told me which school.

"Was it a Ms. Jones?" I asked.
"How did you know?"
"Just a lucky guess, I suppose."
"Do you know - he would do anything for that teacher."  Her exact words.

I was reminded of something a friend of mine wrote years ago in a journal article about different forms of psychotherapy.  After discussing the benefits and limitations of each, he concluded: "It's primarily the relationship that cures."  I believe it's the same with education: It's primarily the relationship that teaches.

But the other thing that comes to mind is a question.  Why are teachers so often unaware of the positive impact they have on their students, even at times to the point of doubting their own ability?  Any thoughts?  Comment below, please.


  1. I think what makes it difficult is that there's typically no good mechanism for constructive student feedback. Either the children are not aware of what makes them respond positively to a teacher or they don't have the skills to express it. Perhaps parents should tke a more active roll in this. In fact, I think I'm going to take some time and write thank you notes to all the kids teachers this week (with input from the children!)

  2. Teaching is one profession that tends to lump all its members into one group. Tenure has long been under attack. I've seen the same attitudes and stereotypes in other instructional areas I've encountered. While there are certainly those in any field who really need to considered sub-standard, there are just as many who continue on unheralded by their peers, or those they serve.

    It's unfortunate that unless someone finally spills the beans, as you have done, many worthy and highly successful teachers never know the true impact they have made.

    It's great that you've helped fill that void.

  3. Martin, That's a good idea to have the children help you thank the teachers.
    Dean, I think you've nailed it with your observation lumping all teachers into one group.
    Thank you both.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Unaware of the positive impact, yet highly aware of trying to create a positive impact. I think most teachers get caught up in creating the impact, that they don't take a moment to look and see how it is affecting the students and their families. How do they know if what they are doing is actually working? Data, happy students, and sweet notes of thanks, "you rock", or any other mini encouragements from parents and students!

  6. Thanks, anonymous. You're right; teachers are busy doing their job, but must appreciate the "mini encouragements."