At the beginning of every year, many teachers, myself included, scour the Internet looking for just the right ice breaker or community building game that will help create a “sense of belonging” in our classroom. We know our students need to feel welcome, loved, and supported just as if they were in a warm and loving home.
We greet their nervous faces with bright smiles and kind words. We support their insecurities and struggles with patience and praise. We know they will make mistakes and although we set the bar high, we catch them as they fall and gently guide them to improve their skills. We do this every day, in every class, for all of our students.
And then the bell rings…and we head home…
Do we greet our family members, friends or neighbors with that same bright smile? Do we support our own loved ones’ insecurities with praise and encouragement? Do we guide our own children with the same patience that we have gifted to our students? To be perfectly honest, I can not say “Yes” to all of these questions! Sometimes, I feel as if I have been given a daily allowance of patience and it is usually tapped by 10:00 am on a school day.
So, the plan this holiday season is to give my family a different kind of a gift. This gift will be my commitment to create the same sense of belonging in my home that I strive to create in my classroom! Here’s how I will do it:
Speak with kindness and respect (please, thank you, greeting, salutations)
Play “getting to know you” activities at dinnertime
Practice patience when encountering mistakes
Focus on the big picture and not nitpicking the minor goofs
What a gift! To treat our loved ones, family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues with the same unconditional positive regard that we treat our students! To focus our efforts this holiday season into creating a sense of belonging for those that we love outside of our classroom! We know that our students thrive when a classroom feels like a loving home. Let’s give this gift to our families and friends and truly bring it HOME for the holidays!