No matter how much we travel or how often we go away, there is always one place we look forward to getting back to: home. It is the place where we feel most comfortable, loved, and free.
Home is where we are accepted for who we are by those we love the most. After a long day at work, home is where we go to put our feet up and relax or spend much-needed time with family.
It is where we share stories that are sometimes filled with laughter and other times filled with tears. It is the one place where most of us can go, and regardless of what has happened in our lives, we will always feel welcomed.
As teachers, if we provide a place for our students that feels like that idea of home, we can change the way they view learning.
Imagine if your classroom was a place your students looked forward to going to every day—a place where they felt welcomed, regardless of what the outside world was doing at that moment.
How much would that change their feelings about walking into your space? When the door to your classroom opens, you have the chance to offer hope, security, and acceptance to students who may not be experiencing it anywhere else.
We get to mold minds, influence the future leaders of our world, and impact individuals every day. There is no better place to do that than a place that feels like home.
Even better, if we create a home for our students, we also create something that will extend beyond our classroom walls.
When students see a teacher they love outside of school and they grow wide-eyed with excitement and start to grin with anticipation, it means they are home. When they can’t wait to tell you about a big event in their lives, or they randomly high-five or hug you for no reason, it means they are home.
An uNforgettable teacher is a teacher who makes a student feel loved and cared for—like family.
An uNforgettable teacher becomes like a piece of home for those students, and their classroom becomes a safe haven.
Creating this type of environment for our students is a gift that they will cherish for their entire lives, and it is a gift that each one of them deserves.
So how do we do that? The easiest way to start on this journey is to take a deeper look at what a home is, and then make our classrooms match it.
We can become uNforgettable teachers when we replicate home life and create a place where students want to be. These teachers maintain a welcoming, accepting, family environment.
If we want to be uNforgettable teachers, we need to make our students feel that sort of home-like comfort and belonging in our classrooms.
We need to offer them a space where they look forward to going to each day—a place where they feel welcome, like how a guest should feel at a friend’s house.
When our students wait for our classroom doors to open each day, they should feel like a guest waiting on the welcome mat of your home, anticipating a positive greeting followed by a wonderful visit.
The first thing people see when they enter most homes is that welcome mat. Some friends will dust their feet off on it while others will look down and simply read what it says, but they all notice it.
It serves as a comforting starting point because once they pass that mat, we greet them with a smile, a handshake, or a hug, and the visit begins. When things start with a warm introduction and something familiar, people feel at home.
The Monthly Mingle
Our students want attention. Some of them spend all day trying to impress us, while others drive us crazy to get noticed.
Some will shy away, hoping that we will see them and ask about their day, because nobody else in their lives ever does.
Regardless of how they demonstrate it, these students are looking for someone to prove to them that they matter. To make them feel like family. And those students will never forget a teacher who goes out of the way to do exactly that.
The beauty of family get-togethers is that they provide an opportunity for connecting with other people. We have a chance to catch up with one another, ask questions, and share.
When we are with our families, we make sure to give everyone we encounter a little time and attention.
The Monthly Mingle strategy takes that concept into the classroom each month, with the goal of giving students the chance to feel like family “catching up” with each other, and with you as their teacher.
Embrace the Power of Personal Touch
Our homes are filled with personal memories on display for all to see.
Whether they are pictures of loved ones or mementos from places we’ve been, we are proud to let others catch a glimpse of our lives through them.
It is a combination of what we display and what we personally share that turns our house into a home, and causes others to come back to visit time and time again.
When we take that into the classroom and add our own personal touches to our spaces, the same thing happens, and our students feel more connected to us.
They start to realize we are real people with lives outside of teaching, and that contrary to what they tend to believe, we don’t live in the school. The atmosphere we create invites our students to spend a little time inside our worlds.
It allows them a glimpse into our interests and passions, and inspires them to share theirs as well. This also adds to the safety of the space and increases the feeling of family.
The simple, personal touches we put into our classrooms are what students will remember forever. uNforgettable teachers are willing to make themselves vulnerable and transparent in order to inspire their students.
They’re willing to allow students into their lives—and they’re also willing to venture into their students’ lives.
By displaying our lives and sharing who we are, we build the foundation toward becoming uNforgettable.
Show Them, Don’t Tell Them
A family doesn’t necessarily need to tell each other how they feel, because the love they share is evident through their actions.
Although words can be reassuring, our actions have to back them up—and it’s those actions that leave a lasting impression.
We often impact our students more with what we don’t say than with what actually comes out of our mouths, and in many cases, our students will remember our actions and responses even more than our words. When students experience a teacher’s love, it will change them forever.
Show your students you care by being present in their lives when they need you, following through on what you say, and demonstrating kindness to them.
Those actions will welcome them home every day, and continue to make the classroom a safe space—and their teacher someone they can count on.
Show Up, Follow Through, Be Kind
Creating a comforting atmosphere and adding personal touches are both key elements in building a home for your students because they open the door to a foundational element found in any place we call home: a personal connection.
Give them that, and the memories they make in your classrooms will last in their hearts forever and will guarantee you a place in their stories.