Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Teaching Secret

Want to know my teacher secret for engaged, happy, attentive kids?

I remembered it again last Saturday.

The 11th grade class was having their college planning retreat. It was a hot morning, and the kids had slept in tents the night before. At least five had not slept a wink. We tried to hold an outdoor educational session, fighting valiantly all the while against heat, mosquitos, noise, and sleep deprivation while discussing FAFSA and TOEFL and...... ok, I get why they were bored.

Bored, and getting an attitude. 

Then, all of a sudden, five minutes later, this was happening.
Look at these faces.
Can you guess what magical ingredient was sprinkled in to produce such sweet joy?

It wasn't a Powerpoint, a pep talk, a group discussion, or anything of that ilk.

It was love.

Love! Affection. Affirmation. Silly, sweet, kind.

I told the kids to open their bags of "love notes" from their classmates. I had assigned each student to write a note to every other junior. You can't know this, but some of the pairs beaming at each other above have relationships that might be best described as "semi-hostile toleration". But love notes... love notes do something special.

In my elementary and teenage years, I went to summer sleep-away church camps led by two people who knew the power of what we called "affirmation cards". We spent hours at camp writing hundreds of aff cards to our friends. In fact, I have every one I ever received. Including one swoon-inducing note from a very cute 9th grader named Ben Kilpatrick.

Love makes bored kids bloom. Love makes everybody bloom.



  1. I love LOVE...;)

  2. Such simple yet powerful concept!

  3. I remember when a guy "Kenny Freeland" wrote me an affirmation card......... and that's how it all started

  4. Tina O'KelleyMay 20, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Beautiful, beautiful.



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