A Little Encouragement Goes A Long Way
There is a saying that goes like this: “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. As teachers, we could change this to phrase to read like this: “You impact more students with encouragement than harsh words”. If you think back on your schooling, which teachers do you remember with fondness. My favorite teachers were the ones who encouraged me along the way. The ones who took time to get to know me and what I needed. The ones who knew how to “fill my bucket”, to borrow the phrase from the ever popular book “Have you Filled a Bucket Today?”
It really is true that a little bit of encouragement can go a long way. As teachers, we have a unique job because we have the privilege of setting an example for the kids. I don’t know about you, but I want to set an example as an encourager and someone who takes the time to build others up. Here are some simple ideas for how to ‘love on’ different personality types in our classroom.
Encouragement Idea One: Tea Time
This is for those kiddos who feel love through ‘quality time’. I set aside time a day or two a week (during Lunch, Recess or Centers) to have some one-on-one time with a student. I brew a cup of herbal tea for each of us and we chat. In the past, I’ve had a chart on the back wall where students can sign-up to spend tea-time with me. The kids really look forward to someone on one time with Mrs. P. Some kids thrive on starting conversations and carrying them on, so chatting with them is easy. Other students need some prompting. For those kids, I have a stack of questions cards that help the conversation to flow more naturally.
Encouragement Idea Two: Whiteboard Marker Notes
Another great idea for leaving encouraging words is writing on their desks with a whiteboard marker. (Yes, it really works, and erases quite easily!) I like to do this the night before, so the kids see the notes when they come in for the morning. It’s also fun to hear the shock in their voices when they see you have written on their desk. It’s so worth it.
Encouragement Idea Three: Positive Notes
This is for those kids who feel love through ‘words of affirmation’. Students love to receive little notes and hear positive things about themselves. When these notes go home, parents also love to read the positive things about their child. I try to have a stack of notes ready to go in my desk drawer. (You can find the notes that I use here. I also have a Bible-based version for Christian classrooms) In the package, there are many pre-made notes that you just need to print out and give the students. These are great to slip into report cards, journals, or leave on the kids’ desks in the morning.
Encouragement Idea Four: Trinkets and Tokens
Some students feel the most loved when they receive a small gift. I’m not saying that you need to break the bank on getting 20+ students a gift. It could be something as small as a new fun pencil or eraser for each student. Or maybe you could bake cookies for your kids....just because. There doesn’t need to be a reason! If everything is a reward, it can lose its meaning. Sometimes a surprise gift will bring the biggest smiles to your students’ faces.
These are only a few ideas that I’ve used over the years, and I’m always on the search for more ways to show my kids some extra love. What are your favorite ways to encourage your students?