This year it was important to me to make time to volunteer in my son’s first grade class. It’s only been a few weeks and already I’ve been reminded of these basic principles:
- It makes someone feel good when you call them by name. Now that I’ve been in the classroom a few times I’m starting to learn their names. When I called a couple children by name their initial reaction was surprise, but there was also a twinkle of pride that I knew their name. Often it’s the little things that mean the most.
- You’re better at taking a test when your blood is flowing. Right before they took a test, the teacher told them they needed to get their blood flowing so they could do their best. She told them to stand up, jump and try to touch the ceiling counting by tens. It was brilliant. The kids were happy, smiling, jumping, counting and when they sat back down they were quiet and focused. I would love to do this in the middle of a long meeting; it would be worth the initial eye rolls to see the smiles take over as the blood starts flowing.
- You don’t have to be loud to get everyone’s attention. The room can get pretty noisy when the class is working on a project. To regain their attention, the teacher quietly sang a little verse. Only a few children heard her and sang the response, but when she sang it again, almost the entire class answered. After three times she had their full attention and the room was silent. People try to emphasize their point by talking louder or longer than everyone else. Is it possible you could say more by saying less (or even saying it quietly)?
- Sometimes you just need to give someone a hug. It’s not uncommon that while I am standing in the classroom, I will look down and have a student wrapped around my waist. I love the purity with which these hugs are given. There is no fear of judgment or appropriateness of timing. They felt like giving a hug, so they gave one. If only adults could perform one act a day that was that impulsive and that pure of heart.
None of these ideas are earth shattering or complicated. They don’t have to be googled or researched or studied to master. But yet sometimes in our quest to “do it right” we overlook some of the first things we were ever taught. If it’s so easy that even a 6 year old could do it, why do we insist on making it so difficult?