In a previous post I discussed my second grade teacher, Mrs. Hayes. Because of her kind nature and positive attitude I learned to love school. Her example has changed my life and I owe a great deal of my success and joy to the lessons she taught me. A few months ago on a short trip to my home town I ran into Mrs. Hayes. I was not surprised to see that she met me with a tight bear hug and a few tears as we discussed the role she has played in my life. As we continued to talk I was heartbroken to hear that after 30+ years of teaching she chose to retire. When I asked what prompted this vocational change, she shared with me news that taught me an invaluable lesson. She said the school district decided that it was against the rules for teachers to hug their students. She simply could not sit and watch a brokenhearted seven-year-old and not lean down and give them one of her famous bear hugs, so she retired.
Before I discuss my stance on this decision, I would like to take a quick moment and say that I support school district policies and understand that they are in place to protect both students and teachers. I simply wanted to use this example to explain an important point about teaching that I hold near to my heart. Mrs. Hayes loved teaching because she genuinely loved the students and wanted to share her deep respect for learning with them. On multiple occasions, whether it was a scraped knee or just a hard day, I remember Mrs. Hayes giving me one of her hugs. Her bear hugs and kind words all my pain was taken away. I knew Mrs. Hayes cared about me, wanted me to succeed, and believed I could.
Students remember the way you make them feel. The method does not matter, but be sure to make your students feel loved. I had one teacher take a chance on me as a seven-year-old and my life has been different because I felt loved and cared for. Thank you, Mrs. Hayes!