A Letter from a Colleague: Teaching with the Heart

Written by Daniela Lombardo, Guatemala City

I think if you teach your students with your heart, it will bring meaning not only to what you do as a
professional but also to the students’ learning. If you show your students how much you care about “who they are,” they will feel supported, motivated, and safe.

It is the smallest things the ones that can promote the biggest changes! A single activity can change a
student’s life. You can show them how we need to love others, as much as we need to learn how to love ourselves, and how everything has a meaning, including our own name.

I wanted to share two activities that I used every school year with my students in Toronto:

“Who Gave You Your Name”

The first activity called “Who Gave You Your Name” is intended to give students the opportunity to research and share the meaning of their name. Students work with their families to complete the activity and then share their responses with classmates.

 

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I would have my students create artistic representations of their names with the meanings and then create a class book.  It was available for students to read at any time and was enjoyed right until the end of the school year. Here are some books you can use to introduce name meanings related to a variety
of cultures:

My Name is Yoon – Helen Recorvitis

 

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The Name Jar – Yangsook Choi

 

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My Name is Sangoel – Karen Willams and Kendra Mohammed

 

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My Name is Bilal – Asma Mobin-Uddin

 

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My Name is Maria Isabel – Alma Flor Ada

 

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Chrysanthemum – Kevin Henkes

 

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“Who in the World Are You”

The next activity called “Who in the World Are You” is something I used to learn about the cultural heritage and family practices of each of my students.  We would then use the information to create communal learning spaces in the classroom.  For example, student pictures would be placed beside how to say “hello” in each student’s language.

 

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Both of these activities can be modified to meet your classroom needs.  Furthermore, here are some other texts you can use to initiate conversations about going back to school in communities around the world:

It’s Back to School We Go!
First Day Stories from Around the World – Ellen Jackson

 

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This is the Way We Go to School: A Book About Children Around the World – Edith Baer

 

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Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World – Susan Hughes

 

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My School in the Rainforest: How Children Attend School Around the World – Margriet Ruurs

 

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A School Like Mine: A Unique Celebration of Schools Around the World – DK Publishing

 

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