Although I have no research to support the following statement, I will always stand behind it based on my own experiences... if we keep our heart at the center when educating a child, the chances that we impact that child in a positive way increase exponentially! Do we need educators to be smart? Yes! Do we need educators to be hard working? Yes! Do we need educators to be patient and flexible? Yes! But without investing, sharing and educating with our heart, we will put a limit on how deeply we can reach a child.
I recently received a thank you note from a third grader who commented on the fact that because I am always positive when he sees me, he always smiles. WOW!
This little guy thinks that I am always positive and that has a direct impact on him and his disposition when he is around me. That is AWESOME! Does he know how hard I work? Maybe... but that's not what he commented on. Does he know how flexible I try and be? Maybe... but that's not what he commented on. He commented on my positivity, which led to his smile. Trust me, I don't feel positive every single day but when I am in our school and surrounded by our kids, I am able to let go of most of the negativity and a smile is almost always the end result. Yes, I try and smile as much as possible when I am around my kids because I value the relationships I share with them.
Relationships. Smiles. Heart. Transparency. Insight. When we can embrace that these concepts should be as much a part of our educational philosophy as differentiation, standards and instructional techniques, we could take the connections with our students to a whole other level. Healthy and positive relationships with our students should always be our goal. Relationships rooted in trust, respect and heart can take a nice classroom and make it an extraordinary space. When our kids know that we value, respect and love them, they will develop higher levels of self-confidence and feel safe enough in their environment to take risks with their learning.
So, if you are an educator, here are some tips about how you could educate with heart...
1) Share your passions, interests, fears and everything in between with your students; share yourself!
2) Smile! Each day, especially the really difficult ones, should feature smiles from the educator because if the educator is smiling, then the chances that the children will also be smiling are pretty high!
3) Talk to your kids... every single day! Not just about their homework, tests or assignments... talk to your kids about their lives outside of school; about their passions, interests and fears; talk to your kids and listen to them every single day!
4) Love your kids... yes... even if love doesn't come naturally to you, find it somewhere in your heart and soul and wrap your kids up in that love... they deserve it and will access it if and when they need it!
5) Build time into the educational experience for everyone to explore their passions and interests. When children are empowered to take control over their learning and direct it on some levels, a different buzz permeates the space!
6) Be transparent with your kids... tell them when you are having a rough day because of the flat tire on the highway or the sick child at home. Tell them when a lesson goes wrong. Tell them when you're getting frustrated. Whatever the focus, just be transparent with your kids because you will be surprised to see how many of them will show tremendous empathy and compassion!
7) Give your students voice in the learning community!
8) Have fun as much as possible. Don't save the fun time for Free Time on Friday; instead, give the kids a chance to have fun during math, reading and writing each and every day because when kids are having fun their brains release endorphins, which increases their availability to learning!
9) Make sure your children never feel like a number or data point because they are so much more than a summative assessment!
10) Put your heart at the center of everything you do within your classroom or school because trust me, the children will notice!
So, the next time you walk into your classroom or school, remember to educate with heart!