At the end of the day today, I told one of my kids a secret.
In front of the other kids.
I leaned down (another reason I teach first grade – I am slightly taller than them), whispered into his ear, and then sent him off to wherever he goes after school (dismissal is absolutely crazy at my school with multiple gates, bus riders, Kid’s Club, and different after school activities like Art and Science and Legos – yes – that’s true – and my team and I split up to take kids to different gates so I don’t get to walk all of my kids out everyday). So when I say I sent him off to wherever he goes, I knew where he was going, but I couldn’t take him there.
Whispering into a student’s ear with others watching makes those other students go nuts.
What? What did you say? Wait! What did you whisper?
And I said well, I can’t tell you, it’s private, and that’s why I whispered. Meanwhile, this little guy that I had whispered to has been having some difficulty in the mornings coming into the classroom without being teary-eyed and missing his parents so I whispered that if we could have a great morning the following day, I would pay him five gold tags.
Yes. I bribed said I would reward him if he could just pretend to be happy to see me the next day. You’d do it, too. Don’t look at me like that.
The rest of my kids wanted a secret, too.
So as I dismissed each student to wherever they were going, I whispered something to each of them.
I like how you never give up.
You are a good friend to everyone.
You are a math wizard.
You were such a great dancer today during GoNoodle.
You knocked my socks off when you shared (oral language) today.
I like how you always help others.
And on and on.
I had a group of about 12 kids that were coming with me to one of the gates, and all they could talk about was the secret I told them.
She said that I always have a positive attitude!
She said that I’m a deep thinker!
She said that my art should be in a museum!
As we were walking out, I started laughing and I told them that it was a secret, that they really shouldn’t be telling each other what I said, but most of all, I just listened.
They were thrilled.
I mean, they couldn’t get over what I said to each of them and each student wanted to tell another student what I said.
It took about one minute to do this at the end of the day.
It really didn’t matter what else had gone on – they were hanging onto my words like I had given them a million dollars.
I mean, I know words are powerful, but wow. WOW.
Once, after I presented at the Southern California Kinder Conference, I got to read my evaluations.
And while almost all of them were good (toot toot, excuse me while I blow my own horn) and people thought I was funny and energetic, or they liked the idea of my plays, there were a couple of evaluations that hurt my feelings.
And guess which ones I remember?
I don’t remember the pile that said all good things. I remember the one or two that hurt my feelings.
So with this spontaneous little secrets thing, I’m reminded of how powerful my words are. How easy it is to build a child up. And how easy it is to tear them down.
So, with that, I’m making it a little goal to tell my kids a secret way more often.
Except that it won’t be a secret.