A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Voices from the Classroom: Loving my students, lifting them up — and helping them respect each other

By Amanda Klare
Beechwood Elementary

Dear parents of my current and former students,

Let me start by thanking you for entrusting me with your most precious belonging: your child. Over the course of the school year, your child becomes one of my “kids.”

I love my students like I love my two daughters. I strive to be the type of teacher I would want for my own girls one day.

By contract, my main responsibility is to teach the state-mandated curriculum. I am passionate about teaching and know that it is obviously important to make sure my students are learning, but in my opinion, my other main responsibilities include creating a classroom where students feel loved and to teach them to be kind to one another.

This world is tough for our kids; we need them to lift each other up and to learn to respect each other despite their differences.

I accomplish this learning objective of creating a caring classroom in different ways.

All year long I am teaching my students about empathy through the books we read aloud together as a class. A personal favorite of my class is always the popular book Wonder. The author RJ Palacio wrote it with a mission to spread the message to “choose kind.”

To pair up with this book, we also write the precept of the day (which also revolves around spreading kindness) on our precept board. Both the read-aloud books and the precepts always spark great conversations that help my students become better people.

Just recently we started a “secret admirer” program that I modeled after an article I read on Twitter.

Each Monday, my students pick a fellow classmate’s name; they become that peer’s “secret admirer.”

All week long, they are watching their person to see what amazing things they are doing. They write 1-2 anonymous notes to them during the week to share something positive they saw them do at school. This can be a kind gesture or something academic.

Then on Friday, they reveal who they have been watching to the whole class during our class meeting. At the meeting, they also share the best thing they saw their peer do all week. It is empowering to see them spotlight their classmates.

I love how the students see things that I don’t always see as the teacher, but the best part is when I see the humbled reaction from each student receiving his/her praise with a smile.

Just like our beloved Auggie in the book Wonder, my students are “lifting up the most hearts.”

Each and every day that your child comes into my class, my job is to help them foster a love of learning, to care for them, and to help them make this world more awesome.

I hope you know that once your child leaves my class at the end of the fourth grade, they will always hold a place in my heart. I will always be their cheerleader in life and my door is always open.

Amanda Klare is a fourth grade teacher at Beechwood Elementary. She is also editor of Voices from the Classroom which appears regularly at the NKyTribune. To contact her, amanda.klare@beechwood.kyschools.us

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