current events

Showing and telling kids you love them.

It’s Monday. That means I should be crafting a post about the books Isabelle and I are reading now. After all, I got back into the Teach Mentor Texts’ Challenge a couple of weeks ago. But yet, today, I cannot seem to craft a blog post about books. Everything from Friday morning’s shooting in Newtown, CT is still too raw.  So, no, today’s post won’t be about books.  Instead it’s about heroism and the concept of show, don’t tell, something we teach young writers how to do as one way to help them write well.

SHOW:  I was moved to tears by an ABCNEWS.COM story, Newtown Teacher Kept 1st Graders Calm During Massacre, about first grade teacher Kaitlin Roig who barricaded herself and her students in a bathroom to keep them safe during the shooting.  And when the police came, she demanded to see badges and have them unlock the bathroom door.  She showed extreme respect and caution by demanding that the first responders were who they said they were.  She showed her kids they were safe when they were hiding together since she stayed in charge the entire time.

TELL:  What really moved me was that Kaitlin told her students that she loved them when they were hiding together. She did this because she didn’t want the gun fire to be the last thing they heard if they died last Friday.  Instead, she wanted their ears to hear words of love. In her interview with Diane Sawyer she questioned whether that was the right thing to do. Yes, it was.  The fact she had the idea to tell them she loved them so she could fill their head with compassion and kindness was exactly the thing to do.

Katilin’s communicated to her students a message of strength, bravery, and courage at a time when it could’ve been easy to just shush the kids and stay silent.  I’m amazed by Kaitlin’s bravery and willingness to show AND tell her students how much she loved them through her strong actions and precise words.  She is a teacher hero.  Furthermore, she’s an American hero.

This tragic event makes me realize that we have the power to communicate our love to our children and our students. While inappropriate to tell students “I love you,” on a daily basis there are so many ways that teachers can wield incredible power by communicating their love for the children they teach by showing them they’re loved. Creating a climate of respect where everyone gets what they need (not wants) is a way to communicate our love for students. Classrooms where bullying isn’t tolerated also shows students we love them and value them.  Making spaces where the social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum is yet another way we show students we love all parts of them.

However, I am taking what Kaitlin said and have thought about how I can translate that into helping my corner of the world be a better place.  And what I’m thinking is this: I can call my Senators every day and I might not get anywhere.  (And yes, I called today and got a recording at one office and a response about a lack of position re: the renewal of the assault weapons ban from the other.) However, I can raise my daughter in a way that helps her know she is loved. I can show her that she’s loved by feeding her healthy food, playing with her, helping her discover the beauty of the outdoors, providing her with rich books to read, and by taking her to visit new places. I can tell her she’s loved every day, multiple times a day. I can tell her with my words, with kisses, and with hugs. By showing and telling her I know I am going to help her grow up knowing, without question, that I treasure her. And while there will be days, in the future, where I’m sure she won’t like me and I won’t like her, I never want her to doubt that she is loved.  Not even for a minute.

So, thank you, Kaitlin Roig. Not just for your incredible acts of heroism, but for the message of love you gave them and for the reminder that you gave all of us that one of the most powerful things we can do is to communicate our love for others.

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10 thoughts on “Showing and telling kids you love them.

  1. She, Kaitlin Roig, and you, Stacey have it just right. Thank you for these thoughtful words of conviction. Our rules at our school are only two things: love and respect, and all actions, the good & the not so good, fall within those two descriptions. It’s such a poignant time for all of us, educators especially. I was with my students when I had to tell them about Columbine and we stayed all day on 9-11 together, and parents joined us that day. Our teachers at school today watched and talked when needed. It is not an easy task to find the words, but we do, and we will, just as Kaitlin did. She is certainly a hero, yet I think most would do the same. Thanks again!

  2. Strange, but I had gone to our high school where I volunteer now in their career center. They were having a “lock down”, and I was locked out along with an irate parent and a teacher who had run an errand. When I approached they told me we couldn’t get in because of the lock down, to which I replied, “Is it safe to just be standing out here?” The parent was upset because they couldn’t get their child for a doctor’s appointment. I tried to explain that a lock down was to make sure everyone was safe, and it was either a practice, or a real one, but in either case, these things had to be done. He was still unhappy about it. Turned out it was a real one, but fortunately no one was in real danger. Then later in the day, we heard about Sandy Hook. I wondered if that parent thought about the lock down and how the inconvenience was necessary. I hope parents can understand why we have lock down drills. I hope they understand why we want them to check in at the office and not just bop down to classrooms unannounced. Teachers work hard teaching, and they work hard keeping children safe. I don’t think I ever worked with any teachers who didn’t love their kids, and who wouldn’t put their lives on the line for their charges. Teachers are incredible human beings…and I’m not just saying that because I am one…but because I know some!

  3. Thank you Stacey. What the teachers did will always be remembered. Such good thoughts about doing the same in our ordinary days with students and with the children in our own family.

  4. Thank you for a great post to get us all thinking. I’m trying very hard this week (especially with my teenagers at home) to spread smiles and kindness. It’s a stressful time for all of us, and I think kindness is what will help everyone cope and heal.

  5. Wonderful. I worry about how I would behave in such a situation. I sat at my school concert today and occasionally looked around and wondered “where would we go, if someone barged in right now?” I know these thoughts will never completely go away.. but I hope I would have the courage and grace in the situation that these teachers had.

  6. I loved Kaitlin’s story when I heard it, and I hope that it’s something that all teachers would say to their students. While we might not say it every day, I hope my students know it by the things I show them: the way I talk to them, the conversations we have around their reading and writing, the little treats and special surprises I sometimes give them… All students need to know they are loved!

  7. What a difficult job we have as teachers at times and yet the unconditional love young ones have for us is such a blessing. When my first graders tell me I am the best or they love me it is whole hearted and sincerely felt. How can that not touch our hearts? Acts of kindness and words of care are essential to our success as educators. We do not talk or think about love too often in our jobs as teachers and maybe we should. Our colleagues at Sandy Hook remind us.

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