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“Live, Laugh, Love & Learn”

Kimberly C. King

Charles County Teacher of the Year, 2014-2015

Live.  Laugh. Love.  Learn. These words need to be at the heart of every teacher and student.  Without them, there is no possibility of closing achievement gaps, making connections with students and parents, and increasing student gains.  These words are the spark that ignites us all.

Live.  Teachers need to know that there is life outside of the classroom.  Pouring our souls into our students happens more than the 7.5 hour school day.  We sponsor clubs, tutor, volunteer at dances, work collaboratively to meet the needs of the students, grade papers, and on and on.  But we must take time to live in order to keep our momentum and spark alive. This means that we take time with our family and friends.  Learn to enjoy life outside the classroom and refresh our souls.

Students also need to live.  This means that every moment should not be spent on school projects and homework. There needs to be a healthy balance of study time and family time. They need time to explore the world around them and grow as a person.

Laugh.  We all need to laugh. We know that laughter does a great deal for the heart and soul. Laughter should be a part of every classroom lesson. Somewhere, somehow – we must laugh. I tell my students that if we can’t come to school and laugh and have fun – then why come? It saddens me when some of them tell me that they only laugh and have fun in some of their classes. It should be in all of their classes.  Some of my best laughs with students come when I make a mistake. In doing so, I’m showing students that we are not perfect and this is how we learn – by our mistakes. After all – that’s why there is an eraser on a pencil – for mistakes and revisions. Taking time to laugh both inside and outside the classroom is crucial to our well-being.

Love.  My students know I love them. Truly. Connecting with students and letting them know you care can go a long way. Think about it. Do you really want to perform and listen to a person who doesn’t care about you? But if you know that person cares, you want to give your best effort to please her and yourself. Students need to also care for each other. In my classroom, I have compassion bags. They are just brown lunch bags decorated by each student. When students are finished with their warm up or anytime they have a free moment, they may put a compliment in a classmates’ bag.  Every 3-4 weeks, we empty the bags and students read a wealth of love and care about themselves. They take them home and share them with their families. They love it and so do I. I also put notes in the students’ bags and they put notes in my bag, as well. We definitely feel the love in our classroom!

Learn.  This is why we are in the classroom each day. We learn and grow. Of course we learn about mathematics and problem solving but we learn even more. We learn the importance of respect, care, and becoming a productive member of society. We set goals and monitor our progress. We listen to each other and share stories. As teachers, we are always learning as we participate in staff development and action research. But the most important learning is reflection. We reflect on how well we are living, laughing, and loving.  And when we do this – we are truly learning! Learning how to carry on and keeping that spark going in order to better our students and ourselves is the root of success.

Live. Laugh. Love and Learn.  It is my motto. It is my life. I encourage you to make it part of your life – both in and outside the classroom.