Today, my class celebrated International Dot Day at Anastasis– that specific blog post will be up next week on our class blog. In conjunction with Dot Day, FableVision partnered with my friend Angela Maiers to include her #YouMatter message (See her TED talk here).
We had a lot of activities planned for today, and we spent a good portion of the last week discussing why it’s important to believe in yourself, try your best, and understand that you do, indeed, matter. Whether you’re five years old or 105, you matter to someone. You make a difference in someone else’s life, whether you know it or not.
For one of our activities, we wrote anonymous dot notes, sharing why someone in the classroom matters to us. We didn’t address them to anyone, and we didn’t sign them. The kids really loved the mystery of being anonymous, but also that their messages would be read by others.
This was by far my favorite activity. The kids walked around reading the dots, wondering for whom they were written, by whom they were written. One of the kids said to me, “I think that one is for you,” and then beamed. I love being a teacher.
The #YouMatter Dot activity got me thinking about every smile, every encouraging word, every pat on the head I give to kids. It also made me think about the times when I’m not so encouraging, and how my actions matter so much to these children. They’re learning all the time, even when I’m not expecting them to do so.
Oddly enough, we had a funny little teachable moment today — have I mentioned how grateful I am to teach and learn in a school where there are no scripts, pacing guides, or state tests to follow? If there were, we probably would have missed out on this lesson today.
When we were deciding together what our #YouMatter Dots could look like, I drew some examples on the board from kids’ suggestions. In one dot example, the kids told me to write, “You sit with me at lunch. #youmatter” In my haste to write what they dictated, I also began writing on the lower portion of the board. For most adults, even those of us who are height-challenged… handwriting suffers a bit on that part of the board.
Soon, I heard giggles from my kids. When I asked them what was so funny, they noted that my writing looked like “You sit with meat at lunch. #youmatter” We all laughed together, and I said, “Huh. So I guess spacing matters, too, right?” They giggled some more, and then I shared the fact that punctuation matters… in fact, it can be a life or death situation.
The photo shows part of our mini-lesson… one that we would not have had today if it hadn’t been for a bit of fun. To those kids, fun matters. Friends matter. Learning matters. Curiosity matters… and I matter more to them than I often realize. In less than thirty seconds, a mistake that I made in writing on a whiteboard became a joke and a lesson about writing. Our kids are learning all the time, even when we don’t always expect it… and that’s just another reason I love teaching.
I hope that you realize that you matter in the life of a child. That’s a pretty serious responsibility, but I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do… can you?