Students are eager to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the classroom, but on a holiday built around celebrating love and friendship with cards and candy, it can be difficult to escape without a few hurt feelings! Get ahead by setting up an inclusive and equitable classroom environment where everyone can feel encouraged. As teachers, we want all of our students to feel valued. This Valentine’s Day, start by reminding your students about empathy and kindness for others.
Empathetic students put themselves in the shoes of others and reflect on how they would feel in various situations. It’s important that you encourage students to practice empathy by imagining how another child might feel if they were excluded and didn’t receive a kind word from a classmate on Valentine’s Day. Here are three ways you can prepare for Valentine’s Day with your students and ensure a successful and inclusive classroom celebration.
As leaders, teachers set the tone for interpersonal behavior in the classroom. Practice active listening with your students and encourage kindness and positive behavior year-round. By showing students examples from your own life of how to be empathetic, you can model kindness and reap the rewards of students spreading kindness too. Let Valentine’s Day be practice for National Random Acts of Kindness Week (February 16-23), another great opportunity to reinforce positive behavior in the classroom.
Discuss other perspectives
It can often be difficult to see a situation from another perspective, especially if you are angry or hurt. Encourage grace and understanding when challenging a student to see both sides of a situation–maybe they haven’t received a Valentine card yet from a friend because they didn’t have time or forgot them at home, and not because they are unliked. Encourage students to always stay positive and believe the best of their peers. Challenge them to be curious about the feelings of others and consider how they might react to various situations.
Be prepared, and have a back-up plan
You can never be too prepared to avoid hurt feelings in your classroom on Valentine’s Day. If you will be sharing Valentine’s Day with your class, consider sending home a list of all the first names of your students, and any classroom rules to follow when exchanging cards. This way, parents can help their child create cards for everyone. Practice kindness and model that for your students by preparing a set of cards for your class, so that every student will get at least one. A personalized note from a teacher will strengthen your relationship and make each student feel valued.
Are you ready to spread kindness this Valentine’s Day? We’ve provided a set of printable Valentine’s Day cards you can share with students. Click the links below for bilingual Valentine’s Day cards in a language you teach!