My earliest memory of a time I felt valued was when I was helping my dad. He was rotating the tires on the car, and my job was to keep track of the lug nuts. No way was I losing a single nut! My dad was counting on me, and I didn’t want to let him down because I just wanted to spend time with him. I felt valued at that moment.
Think of a time when someone made you feel valued. Maybe it was when you were a child, teenager, young adult, or even just yesterday. How did it make you feel? Did you want to spend more time around that person? Did you start thinking of how you could be of value again, or how you could help out even more? Feeling valued is a fundamental necessity of human life. We all want to feel valued in some way. The more valued we feel, the more likely we are to pay it forward.
Our students are not any different from us. They crave attention, love, safety, and also want to have a purpose. They want to feel valued. How many times in your career have students come up to you wanting to tell you about something they did that made them proud? The incident probably had nothing to do with school, but in their mind, it showed their value and worth. They were proud of something they accomplished, and they wanted you to be proud of them as well.
We all remember students who shared stories of their accomplishments. So how can we make those same students feel valued in our classrooms? How can we make them feel like they are capable learners?
I don’t consider myself to be an innovative person, but I am perceptive. I pick up on things and tend to remember those things. I also can appreciate creative and innovative teachers. My thoughts on how to make students feel valued are not new or innovative; they are just things I have witnessed, learned, or done myself in class. Leaving my ego at the door, I use many great ideas that others have come up with.
I can’t remember where I first heard this story, but it is about the nun and the schoolboy who died in Vietnam. It is a true story that you can find online if you search for the nun and schoolboy who died in Vietnam. Please make sure to add “who died in Vietnam.” I’m not sure what you will find on the Internet if you don’t tag it with that. Anyway, the abridged version goes like this:
A nun in a Catholic school had all her students write down the nicest thing they could think of about each one of their classmates. She then took all the lists and made individual lists of the nice things other students had said about each individual. One of her students was later drafted to go to Vietnam where he was sadly killed in action. The nun was invited to attend his funeral. After the service, his parents pulled out the list she wrote for him. He had it in his wallet when he was killed in Vietnam. It’s better if you read the full story, but the point is that we never know how our words or actions will impact our students. Because we don’t know how they are going to perceive what we say or do, the easiest thing to do is to just be kind and make them feel valued.
Your task this week: Find one way to help make your students feel valued. It shouldn’t be a bribe—it needs to be authentic. Maybe you use the example I wrote about. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Or, if you’re looking for additional ideas, check out:
- The Nun and the Schoolboy Who Died in Vietnam
- How to Make Your Students Feel Valued as Individuals
- Strategies to Help Your Students Feel Heard
- 10 Ways to Make Students Feel Valued in Their First Week