Teaching with Tenderness is a cute and catchy name, but what does it really mean? I can’t really explain it, without telling you the events, that lead to this blog. It is a combination of working with students for years and trying to figure out the best way to support my own son, who was struggling every day at school.
I didn’t grow up longing to become a teacher. I went to university and acquired an honours degree in business. After those four years ended, I still didn’t know what job I wanted to pursue. My future husband suggested teachers college and the rest is history. He saw qualities in me, that I was not aware of myself, at the time. I was super fortunate and was offered a full time contract, as soon as I completed school. I jumped head first into a grade 3/4 classroom and treaded water, barely keeping myself afloat, for that year. I still had lots of professional growing ahead of me, but I enjoyed the time I spent with my students. I was able to stay in that grade for a while, which allowed me to improve and find tune my practice, with each new class.
Then, I had my first son and that experience made me a more thoughtful teacher. I began to see each of my students as someones son or daughter. They were not just children, they were precious souls that meant the world to their parents. I began treating all of my students, with the love and care, that I wanted my son to receive, during his day at school. I accepted kind gestures from the my students with grace. The hug hello, the thoughtful picture that was created just for me and the exciting story that had to be shared from the night before, were invaluable gifts that I received daily. I was enjoying the profession and realized that it had been the right career path for me. I was meant to work with kids, but I began feeling that something was missing from the curriculum.
This feeling of unrest was accompanied by a drastic change at school for my son. He went from a boy who looked forward to class, to one that cried and refused to get out of the car and start his day. I was baffled by this new behaviour and to be honest, school has been an uphill battle since then. I believe this change occurred because it was the first time in his life, that he saw himself as less than. He chose to believe a fictional story about himself, based on lack of educational ability and self worth. His self confidence was shot and we are still trying to build it back up. My eyes are not covered by blinders, when it comes to my sons behaviour. He is a ball of energy and doesn’t fit the traditional model of school very well. He needs lots of movement and some freedom, but these needs are hard to meet in a regular class. I am not blaming the school for his situation, but I tell it because there are MANY students in this predicament in MANY schools.
Every child is born with a unique gift and I believe that everyone has some form of brilliance. I see some form of brilliance in all my students. Whether they grow to be a wonderful parent, they show us love through a kind gesture, or they simply provide another perspective. All babies are born perfect and brilliant and I believe we “educate” it out of them. One of my favourite students was a boy that performed horribly on his report card, but he would go home at night and pull apart a radio and rebuild it perfectly. This is a brilliant gift that is not assessed by school. He has great value in the world, but school does not value his brilliance. We are all born with an important purpose and we need to nurture our small souls so they can share it with the world. This is why I created Teaching with Tenderness. If we can create an environment in our schools that is rooted in love, compassion and trust, then we can reach all students, regardless of academic ability or subject matter. I want to help all of you establish this loving atmosphere in your classroom.