One of the cornerstone premises of my life that has greatly influenced my philosophy of education is that love never fails. A kind word. A sincere gesture. A genuine smile. All of these seemingly innocuous acts are ones of love that, irrespective of race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, class, or socioeconomic status, succeed in warming the collective and individual hearts of mankind. At every turn possible, I seek to share and give my students opportunities to share love, if nowhere else, within the parameters of our classroom. Last week on Valentine’s Day was a perfect chance to do just that.
I teach seventh-grade English Language Arts so my students range in age from 11 to 13 — very emotionally tumultuous ages, to say the least. The hallways that day were all a buzz with who got or was expecting to receive a gift from their Valentine. Many students didn’t have any romantic love interests and I recognized that. As they lined up quietly to prepare to enter our classroom, I gave each of them an index card and asked them to hold onto it for the day’s Do Now activity as they sat at their seat. “Why?” they asked. “What are we going to do with them?” they asked. “You’ll see!”, I replied! “You’ll see.”
As I handed out a couple donut holes to each student as my Valentine’s Day gift to them, I asked the students how many of them like to receive genuine compliments. Every hand in the room went up, including mine. I told them that today, in honor of this day when our entire country was celebrating love, we would do so by each of us choosing a member of the class that we don’t normally talk to outside of school and writing down something about them that we love, like, appreciate, or enjoy. They looked at the Do Now and saw the model template I’d created on the board:
One thing that I (love/like/appreciate/enjoy/admire) about you is_______________________. Thank you.
The students were advised that they could not let the person to whom they were writing know because we were all going to share out with the whole class upon completion. Everyone immediately got to work. They were excited! I walked around the room to make sure that everyone was getting one warm sentiment written about them. For any students that weren’t, I filled in the gaps and wrote one for them.
All I can say is, the Spread the Love activity was beyond successful! Students wrote such amazing things about their classmates and the smiles on their faces when they heard those words was truly priceless. Even I got choked up when I was the recipient of the words of appreciation. It’s always the little things that means so much, those small acts of kindness that touch us deeply, particularly when they come from people whom we didn’t even think noticed us.
It’s so important to spread love in our classrooms. Love culture in a school is one where all students feel safe and appreciated. Students and teachers will feel that they belong. Love never fails and when fully embraced as a key component of your classroom, it will not only yield social, emotional, and academic growth, but an energy of mutual respect. What our classrooms and world need now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. Spread the Love in your classroom!
Accept the Challenge and #SpreadTheLove with us today!
Encourage your students to spread the love this month with a simple activity that not only helps each student better understand how others value them, but also shows how just a few kind words can elevate, inspire, and foster a sense of belonging throughout the classroom.
A small challenge to accept today for a big impact on all of their tomorrows.
At her core, Vivett is a passionate wife, mother, educator, humanitarian, and social activist who is dedicated to taking her voice outside of her home and the classroom and into the public arena, in an effort to elevate authentic conversations and grassroots changes in educational equity for all those who have systematically and historically been disenfranchised.