I can't stop thinking about their eyes, wide, bright, and full of "I'm so special," as they walked under our uplifted arms, surrounded by our farewell cheers. The smiles, spread across their faces, were unforgettable, followed by generous hugs from random children. I chuckle at the thought of the boy who hugged his way through our human tunnel, one staff member after the other, zigzagging his way back and forth across the sidewalk. But really, the highlight of the whole experience came from a third grader who was in my class two years ago. Though withdrawn and quiet then, he's hardly made eye contact with me since. Yet as he walked through our staff-made human tunnel on the last day of school on his way to the bus, he stopped when he got to me and gave me a hug.
This moment left me thinking about the power of an emotional experience. All it took was a human tunnel on the last day of school to unlock an atypical response from this young boy, not to mention a slew of other rewarding reactions from every child who walked through our tunnel. It also unlocked new life within me, with my arms in the air and my heart overflowing. "This is the kind of school I want to be at."
How can our schools and classrooms create more moments like this? Our students will remember them. Our staff members will want to be part of them. We all need more of them. These memorable moments connect teachers and students in unique and powerful ways that will keep kids coming back for more, and some of our learners need all the reasons they can climb on to that bus every morning and show up for another day.
I feel challenged to create more emotional experiences for students that leave them believing they're part of something special and more importantly, thinking, "I'm so special."