fbpx

Of All the Things I Miss This Year, Hugging Students is at the Top of the List


Of All the Things I Miss This Year, Hugging Students is at the Top of the List

Good morning! Stay six feet away. Pull up your mask. Don’t forget to wear it at all times, even outdoors. Wash your hands. Go straight to your desk. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 germs.

Goodbye! Wash your hands. Pull up your mask. Leave one at a time. Don’t touch anything or anyone on your way out. See you tomorrow!

This is pandemic education. It can feel so cold, so impersonal. The safety restrictions are necessary to keep COVID at bay, but what is this distance doing to our students? Plenty of research indicates that there are both physical and mental health benefits from hugging and other physical contact. Hugs reduce the negative effects of stress on the brain, by deactivating the part of the brain that responds to threats. They increase levels of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, and ironically, may even boost the immune system. So this year’s lack of contact could be taking a toll, especially on those students who don’t receive much affection at home.

This year, I’ve missed student-directed learning. Hands-on, collaborative activities. Reading buddies and school-wide events. Field trips and tournaments and PD outside of the school. But of all the pandemic restrictions this year, what I miss the most is close contact with my students. Good morning fist bumps. High fives when the light bulb goes off and they finally get that concept. A hand lightly on a shoulder when they’re clearly stressed, just to let them know I’ve got their back. Birthday handshakes. Kneeling down to face them, eyeball to eyeball to have a heart-to-heart and get them back on track. Shoulder to shoulder in a book club circle. Heads together over a tough problem. And above all, I miss answering “Yes, of course!” to the question, “Can I have a hug?”

So, I say no. I keep my distance. I meet the book clubs in somewhat socially distant groups, with everyone sitting on their own chair three feet apart. I cheer out loud and give a thumbs up instead of giving high fives. A six-foot-long skipping rope stretched between me and the birthday child mimics the action of an enthusiastic handshake. And above all, I infuse hope and perseverance into my lessons. We will get through this. We’ll keep solving tough problems! We will fist bump and shake hands again. One day, the world will be okay. Until then, I tell my students, just know that I can still care about you just as much from a distance and from under a mask.

It’s true that the one benefit to all of these protocols is that no one has sneezed directly into my eyeballs this year, so there’s that. And in-person pandemic schooling does provide the social contact that kids have been missing, even with all of the restrictions. It definitely beats teaching to avatars on a screen! But I sure will be happy when we’re all vaccinated and a simple hug is okay again.

Also Check Out:

Of All the Things I Miss This Year, Hugging Students is at the Top of the List

Like it? Share with your friends!

Anne Lefebvre

Legend

I grew up in the city but now call small-town Ontario, Canada home, along with my husband and two teenage boys. I’m a passionate elementary school educator, but when I’m not at school you can find me playing a sport, reading, or drinking a cup of tea.

Choose A Format
Article
Share your amazing stories, tips, opinions, and other stuff that matters.
Video
Upload your funny, inspiring, DIY, or informative video(s) for the world to see!
Personality quiz
Leave the serious quizzes at school, these are strictly fun! You make the questions and pre-define the results.
Trivia quiz
Time to test your friends' knowledge! You choose the subject and have fun seeing who scores the highest!
Poll
Pose any question to millions of educators by creating your own polls/surveys, whether for research, for fun, or for the sake of curiosity!
Photo
Share your classroom decor, costumes, funny classroom antics, silly grading moments, or other teacher life shenanigans!

HAVING FUN?
Get the best teacher newsletter your inbox has ever seen!

Don't worry, we don't spam

HAVING FUN?
Get the best teacher newsletter your inbox has ever seen!

Don't worry, we don't spam