Making Students Feel Valued.

This morning as I was listening to the radio on my way to school, they were asking little kids to respond to the question:  How do you know someone loves you?  This response stuck with me:

You know someone loves you by the way they say your name.  Your name just sounds safe in their mouth.

It’s true, you know.  We do know someone loves us by the way they say our name.  I can often tell if a teacher loves a student by the way he says the name.  Just as I know a student is not loved by the way the teacher says the name. 

A few years ago, my friend Barb Bean began taking attendance in her fourth grade classroom by saying “Good Morning” to each of her students and adding their name to the end phrase.  They would respond to her with “Good Morning Mrs. Bean.”  Then she would go to the next student.  At first this seemed scripted and contrite to me.  So I asked her about it.

She shared with me about how she wants each of her students to feel they are a special part of her classroom community, so she greets them each by name.  What better way to feel important than by being welcomed by name and given eye contact every morning.

The little boy on the radio this morning reminded me of Barb’s morning procedure and the gift she gave her students by extending an individualized greeting each day.  It took only minutes out of her classroom day and each student felt important.

I don’t think we ever outgrow the need to feel special and part of a community.  I’m considering using Barb’s procedure to collect daily reading progress with my ninth graders next trimester.  I think at first it may feel a little awkward or, dare I say it, old-fashioned .  However, after a handful of days, I believe it will become a comfortable procedure and students will know they are valued since I took the time to offer an individualized greeting at the beginning of the block.

How do you ensure students’ names “feel safe in your mouth?”