Heart typography. All we need is love.

All We Need is Love…

Treva Jenkins Life in the Classroom, Love, Social Issues

SHARE THIS STORY: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+

In these turbulent times, I was really inspired by the Az K-12 Homeroom article entitled, “Spreading Kindness in the Classroom.” Now, more than ever, teaching our young people civility inside and outside of the classroom is paramount. Throughout my many years of teaching, I have always strived to create a classroom culture of discovery for learning, respect for one another and a love for humanity. We can help our scholars feel a sense of community in the classroom by embedding kindness in every aspect of classroom life, especially in our classroom expectations.  When students feel safe and secure in the classroom, it can lead to a lifelong hunger for knowledge, students who feel safe taking educational risks, and more importantly, scholars who grow up to become responsible, productive, caring adults.

As teachers, we understand that optimal learning is driven by curiosity, which leads to exploration, innovation, and mastery. The more our scholars experience this cycle of optimal learning, the more it creates lifelong excitement and love of learning. Unfortunately, in this day and age, it’s quite challenging for our young people to reach this type of learning utopia. Our scholars carry heavy burdens and real stresses with them to school each day. The love of learning can be hindered by these burdens and stresses. For our scholars, under threat of any kind — hunger, pain, loss, shame, confusion, or too much, too new or too fast — they will respond in ways to keep them safe. Their minds will focus only on the information that is, at that instant, critical for survival. Stress destroys curiosity and inhibits exploration. This is where a caring and nurturing classroom environment can have the greatest impact.

In the Homeroom article, the author writes, “Educators can play a huge role in alleviating these emotional burdens by creating an environment that is safe and welcoming for all… that’s just the beginning. Creating a culture of kindness starts with everyday teachable moments that help students change their perceptions of one another and relate to both you and their peers.”

The best way to promote kindness and caring behaviors in our classrooms is to model them. When we show our scholars what it looks like and sounds like to be kind, there is a far greater chance they will repeat those modeled behaviors. It is also significant to remember that our students watch our behaviors all the time and listen to everything we say! I believe in teaching character education; however, I also firmly believe fundamental caring behaviors and kindness are more often “caught” than they are “taught” in the classroom. For years now, I have taken pictures of my students getting “caught in the act” of kindness, and then I display their acts of kindness on our classroom bulletin board. My young scholars absolutely love this type of recognition, and they too will share when they see their classmates doing acts of kindness inside and outside of the classroom walls. My substitute teachers have even joined in on the act and have added their “kindness notes” to the board!

kindnessboard2

“Caught in the Act” of Kindness

Creating a culture of kindness in the classroom covers multiple areas of society that our scholars will face. The skills we teach in this type of classroom will help our scholars with the difficult task of coping in our divisive world right now. These skills include showing compassion, empathy, listening skills, anger management, coping tools, personal responsibility, and respect for diversity.

Examining the world we are currently living in, is there no greater work for teachers then nurturing kindness, compassion, and empathy in our young people?

I believe one of the most crucial roles educators have is to teach, model and reinforce respect, compassion, kindness, and other prosocial skills. Doing so builds a school culture where students feel more connected to their teachers and to their peers. It leads to greater emotional well-being for students and teachers alike. It has the potential to create a fundamental shift in school climate—a tipping point at which violence, racism, bullying, and hatred become a rarity.

Much has been written about social and emotional learning in the classroom. ASCD has published a really great article entitled, “Social-Emotional Learning and Academics: Better Together.” The author writes, “Instead of viewing social and emotional learning as tangential—something to fit in around the edges of the curriculum—we should treat it as an integral part of our daily teaching for all students.”

There are so many resources to help bring kindness into your classroom. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has an excellent website for teachers that include lessons, videos, and kindness ideas.

How are you promoting kindness in your classroom? Share your ideas and thoughts below.

 

 

Treva Jenkins

Phoenix, Arizona

My name is Treva Jenkins and I am an Arizona Master Teacher. My journey into education did not begin right away. After college, I spent several years in the United States Army as a Military Intelligence Officer. I learned a great deal and the knowledge and experience gained from the military was priceless, but my heart yearned to work with young people. After leaving the military, I began to pursue a career in education by working at a very special charter school for at-risk youth. This experience shaped my educational philosophy; this is when I truly fell in love with teaching. I eventually received my post-baccalaureate and a Master’s degree in Education Reform and Intervention from Ottawa University. I am currently teaching at a Title I public school in the Maricopa Unified School District. Each year, I get the privilege of teaching an amazing group of 7th grade students. My love and passion is helping my students discover the exhilarating world of English, Language Arts. Not only do I get to teach an extraordinary group of 7th graders every year, I am a mentor teacher. As a mentor teacher, I have the wonderful opportunity of helping beginning teachers find success and gratification in their new work. I understand that being a lifelong learner is a core responsibility of my profession. Currently, I am a candidate for National Board Teacher Certification. The journey into becoming a National Board Certified Teacher has truly changed my teaching practice. The process helps to inform my practice, to become a better teacher, and to reflect on what I do in the classroom. I have been teaching for over 16 years and the greatest inspiration is my students. I am also experiencing the best of both worlds, a type of educational utopia: helping my students discover their true potential and providing support to our valuable beginning teachers. There’s a passage from the Bible that I keep close to my heart when I am reflecting on my teaching experiences. The author writes, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Regardless of the many trials we may face in education today, platforms like this one provide hope for educators who want to have a voice on issues that really matter to them. I look forward to sharing my stories with you and hearing your feedback, experiences and opinions on policies impacting the classroom. Remember, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

» Treva's Stories
» Contact Treva