I’ve mentioned a few times here, or on Instagram, or in my Stories on Instagram (here there and everywhere, apparently) that before school began this year, we had a Capturing Kids’ Hearts training.
And if you’ve never had the opportunity to attend this training, I highly recommend it. If you GET the opportunity, TAKE IT.
And if you’ve already attended, well, then you probably know what I’m about to say. Or maybe not. Because I have a big ole confession.
First, before I confess, please promise not to leave a mean or nasty comment. (PS If you do, I’ll just delete it. Insert evil laugh here! HAHAHAHA! 😜)
And second . . . I tell you all A LOT of what is going on in my life, what I’m eating, what I’m thinking, how I’m feeling . . . I mean, I keep it real. Wouldn’t you say?
But this is BIG. And I haven’t wanted to say this, but I am going to say it.
Okay, here goes.
A long long long time ago and up until about . . . hmmm . . . maybe last year or possibly not even then . . . I never ever ever told my students that I loved them.
I said it.
I’m rocking back and forth in a dark corner somewhere. Somebody hold me.
I am cringing just writing that and reading that and putting that out there.
That’s not to say that when a kiddo said, directly to me, I love you, Mrs. Oldham, I didn’t respond. I did! I would say, Love you, too! but in a light, feathery, happy-go-lucky, I feel so awkward, did anyone hear that, is anyone watching this exchange, am I going to prison type of way.
I don’t know!! I don’t know, I said!
I just didn’t know I could. Or if I should. Or if it was weird.
Alright. Confession number two. I did think it was weird. I knew a teacher who told her kids all the time that she loved them, and I am sure I looked at her out the sides of my eyes (as in SIDEWAYS) multiple times with judgment and shock and horror.
In fact, I know I did. And I’m pretty sure I said to a fellow teacher IS IT JUST ME OR IS THAT JUST WEIRD?
Let me be clear. I loved the kids I had even though I didn’t tell them so very clearly. I told other people how much I loved my kids.
I love my kids, I would say.
I mean, how can it be anything BUT love when I can’t sleep because I’m worried about this one, buying shoes and snacks for that one, wondering if so-and-so is happy at her table group or if I should move her, buying a game because it’s the cool new thing, creating a new resource that I think would be engaging, etc etc etc.
I just wasn’t good at SAYING it directly to the actual students.
By the way, I tell people in my personal life ALL THE TIME that I love them.
This is an isolated incident.
AND YOU SAID YOU WOULDN’T JUDGE ME, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
Anyways . . . while attending Capturing Kids’ Hearts, our trainer made mention of a teacher who ended her day the same way all year long.
She would say “Remember that Mrs. Poppins loves each and every one of you no matter what. Have a great night and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
My teammate and I looked at each other like . . . HOW SWEET.
And is that legal?
Oh, I kid.
Sort of. 😉
But we also chatted quickly about how saying “Mrs. Poppins” instead of the word “I” means . . . when the kids are at home, they can repeat “Mrs. Poppins loves me”.
Isn’t that so special? I LOVE THAT.
So I decided to make a change and this year, I’m doing that.
Every day, at the end, when we’ve got our backpacks on, and we are ready to go, I say “Now remember . . . Mrs. Oldham loves each and every one of you no matter what! Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow!”
It’s becoming way easier, although I’m going to admit that it felt odd in the beginning. Just saying. Being real.
Wellllllll . . . listen to this.
I’ve got this little girl who has a less than ideal home life. She can be tough to deal with as far as the kids go – she has a hard time being friendly and kind, and what-have-you, and up until recently, she decided her number one job was to TEST OUT AND PUSH ALL OF MY BUTTONS.
Some of them . . . MULTIPLE TIMES.
BIG DEEP BREATH.
We had an incident about a week ago in which she pushed the WRONG DARN BUTTON at THE DARN WRONG TIME and I had given her multiple chances so it was time for a break.
For both of us.
So I thought I would have her spend a little time-out/cooling-off period in my teammate’s classroom, but you guys. She followed me out our door and to my teammate’s door, but she would not go THROUGH the door.
I’m talking FEET PLANTED, STUCK IN THE MUD, NOT BUDGING, AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME NO NO NO NO NO.
And it’s not like I can pick her up because I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that THAT IS ILLEGAL.
I gave her two choices (time-out in my teammate’s room or give me the first part of her recess) and after choosing I WANT TO GO HOME two or three times which was actually not on the menu, she finally agreed to losing part of her recess.
By the way, I never like to take recess away EVER, especially when we’ve been having a heat wave and the chance to go outside and play is MAJOR, but in this instance, I needed to TALK TO HER.
So we sat in my room and I asked her what was wrong. She couldn’t really articulate it so I just started talking to her in my ZEN voice which isn’t very ZEN at all, and I said things such as:
You know I love you, right? I tell you every day. (the beginnings of a smile, but not really)
You know I don’t have kids of my own. I go home and I think about YOU. (small smile)
We are just getting to know each other, but what you need to know is I love you NO MATTER WHAT. (genuine smile)
Then I let her go play.
A miracle has not happened.
Rainbows are not shooting out of anyone’s nether regions.
She is trying. She is making better choices. She WANTS to be a good friend.
She gave me a filthy bracelet like it was her most prized possession. It was dirty and sweaty, and I wore it for two days straight.
At the end of the day when I say “Remember Mrs. Oldham loves each and every one of you no matter what” she is the first to say: You tell us that every day.
And I say I know. Because it’s true.
And then she smiles SO BIG and gives me a hug.
EVERY DAY THIS IS OUR ROUTINE. It’s almost like she can’t believe I’m saying it, and she just has to question it or confirm it or double check it.
After I said the whole “Now remember . . . Mrs. Oldham loves each and every one of you no matter what! Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday!” . . . She came up to me on her way to the bus lines, and she said, with this little look on her face, like she couldn’t believe it herself, she said
. . .
I LOVE YOU, MRS. OLDHAM.
I was just standing there IN AWE.
Kind of getting a little choked up as I write this now.
I said . . . AND I LOVE YOU, TOO!!! SEE YOU MONDAY!
So what I’m saying is I JUST DIDN’T KNOW HOW POWERFUL IT COULD BE.
I DIDN’T KNOW!
And even if it feels uncomfortable to you, just start doing it. It will get easier.
And if you’ve been telling your students you love them FOR YEARS, you’re amazing. Keep it up. I wish I could go back in time and start this for all of my classes.
BUT AT LEAST I’M DOING IT NOW.
AND I HAVE ALL THE FEELS.
AND I LOVE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU TOO. NO MATTER WHAT.
Even if you leave a mean or nasty comment.