As I stood watching the Homecoming parade last Friday night, I realized, again, how much it matters to my students when I attend their events. Seeing the high school students, who were once my 6th graders, was fun and they were excited to wave at me. However, it was my middle school students who really showed how thrilled they were. Mind you, their idea of showing their appreciation involved pelting me with candy, but it’s the thought that counts! (That and being able to duck for cover!)
Last weekend, I attended one of their football games. I sat in the stands, assuming they wouldn’t see me all the way up there. Unfortunately, after the game, the coach had them in a huddle, then they were busy picking up the field. It was cold and rainy, so I headed for my car. The next Monday, though, it was clear they had seen me. Every one of them asked if that really was me in the stands. Each player then proceeded to ask if I had seen their play time. Whether it was a touchdown, a catch, a throw, or standing downfield, they each wanted to make sure I had noticed them. The excitement they showed when they spoke to me made the cold, rainy Saturday evening worthwhile.
Over the years, I have attended plays, concerts, sporting events and more. Each time, the students are beyond thrilled that I would take the time to attend. When my daughter was in 2nd grade, she and her friends were on a swim team. Granted, most of their practices consisted more of splashing around in the shallow end, but still, they were considered swimmers! Their 2nd grade teacher attended one of their swim meets. The girls couldn’t believe it. Watching how much it meant to them (they continued talking about that meet for months to come) reminded me how important it is to students to show your interest in their lives outside of school. My grandmother always said “you put your time into what’s important”. My students matter to me, and I like to show them that.
Whenever possible, take a few minutes to attend an event your students participate in. The benefits will far outweigh the small amount of time spent. It means the world to our students when we demonstrate how important they are to us. (As a side note, the parents are also always impressed that you took the time to see their child. This goes a long way in parents’ minds regarding their opinion of you as a teacher!) Nothing pleases me more than to see my students performing. It’s such a thrill to see those adorable faces (yes, even my former students who are big, bad high schoolers will always be adorable to me!). It’s one of the highlights of what I do.