When a San Diego 4th grade teacher decided to put down the curriculum and ask her class a single question, she opened up a whole new love dialogue in the room. One that even she could not have predicted.
In class, at a crucial point while reading the novel, “My Name is Maria Isabel,” Mrs. Tolar decided to ask the same question the teacher in the book asked of the leading character:
“What is your greatest wish?”
It was that question that lit up the love in her classroom and opened up a totally new dialogue.
“It was very eye awakening and emotional,” shared Mrs. Tolar as she reflected on that moment. “Students shared not only their dreams, but how they were really thinking.”
It was a moment she opened up her heart to truly hear the children. And that question revealed the aspirations, the fear and the hope of the young hearts and minds she has the privilege of molding each day.
Some wished to no longer be invisible. Some wished she knew that other children were teasing them when she was not around. One student revealed he wasn’t turning in his homework because he just doesn’t “get” math and a student who excels revealed he felt uncontrollable anger at times and didn’t like the way that feels.
“After learning about these kids, I’ve been able to make some changes in my classroom,” said Mrs. Tolar. She sprung into action. Three days a week she opens her room during lunch for students who want tutoring in math. She has made referrals to counsellors, checks in with the students who felt invisible, and gives love to those who were bullied.
“If you are a teacher, I highly recommend an activity like this. It will help you get to know your students,” said Mrs. Tolar. She also recommends waiting until later in the school year before introducing this exercise. Establishing trust first is key.
And her final advice to any teachers out there inspired to do the same in their classes:
“Don’t read [the wishes] while you are at school. You will most likely cry like I did.”
We applaud you Mrs. Tolar and the work you and the thousands of teachers do every day to Light Up The LOVE. And to our readers we ask you –
What is your greatest wish?