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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?”

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

3 thoughts on “Making Students Feel Valued. Leave a comment

  1. You know that this is very near and dear to my heart. It has been something I have had to be more intentionally about since I haven’t been in my classroom much. I make sure that I am in the hallway outside my classroom every morning to greet my students. I have been reflecting on this aspect of my job a lot over the past 5 weeks and trying little things here and there to make a difference.


  2. I try to say hi to all my kids by name as they enter my classroom. I teach middle school, and I don’t feel like I can afford a few minutes per period to do that with attendance, but saying hi to them as they come in I think is a pretty good second. I also smile a lot at them, and laugh with them whenever possible; it’s not name-specific, but I think it shows them that I appreciate them and enjoy their company, and that makes them want to be there. One class told me that I’m one of the only teachers that does that.


  3. As horrible as this sounds, when I am having a horrible and cranky day and just can’t do it anymore…I imagine their parents in the room or dear teacher friends of mine and I’m able to keep the calm that’s needed.

    I also greet my students and we run through many different languages. The kids love Pig Latin! I also have them greet each other…it’s so fun to watch them learning that eye contact is important. They’ll even make someone greet me again if they don’t give eye contact.

    What a wonderful post to think about…thanks for the ponderings!


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