Last year, after 7 years at my first workplace, I changed schools. Same system, same year level but I soon found a very different place. A change that I thought would be relatively easy turned out to be really, really hard work. Everything was different staff wise and routine wise. Small things at my old school were big things here and vice versa.
One of the biggest changes was the way every staff member greeted the kids. No standard "Good morning", instead I walked in to a room of kids I had never met greeting me with, "Good morning Mrs Perry and God bless you. Love ya". And I have to tell you, I hated it. I didn't like the "cheese" factor, the fact that the kids were saying that they loved me when they'd never met me before and I've always cringed over the 'God bless you' as I had always felt it was something that a priest said. But it is embedded at my school, something the kids are used to saying to everyone and are used to hearing back.
A year on and I have to say I (almost) love it, for the one reason that it gives me the freedom to tell my class that I love them. In the past I have never said this to my class, always feeling like it wasn't my place. Oh boy, is it a relief to get it out there. It's true, always has been for every kid I have taught. They are all special and unique, I continue to remember them and every year of kiddos have made me a better teacher.
This year I have changed year levels to teach 3/4's and I tell my class I love them every morning, sometimes I few times a day. Normally it's something along the lines of "You know I love you all but....", "I love you kiddos, that was an awesome morning.."
This class and I just click. We are learning, laughing and generally having a great time doing both. I hope that they feel the importance of those 3 words that I say, that they know that I mean it.
About a month after school had started this year, as "that" kid was leaving the classroom for the afternoon he turned around and shouted "Love you Mrs Perry". My smile must have been visible from space! To know I was getting somewhere with him was, and still is, the best feeling.
The change of schools is not something I regret doing. Almost 18 months on I know that I have learnt a lot but the challenge of being "new" is still there. However, I am most grateful for this 'gift' this place has given me, having the freedom to say I love you to my class of gorgeous people without feeling unprofessional or creepy. Just a devoted teacher telling the truth.