How Knowing “Love Languages” Can Boost You As A Teacher

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

How do you make each student feel loved and appreciated?

Teaching is an activity of both mind and heart.

We go the extra mile when we teachers become another set of parents to our students, giving them both guidance and love. This does not depend on their performance in class but may have a positive effect on it. However, making each student feel loved and appreciated can be a little tricky as we consider their different personalities and their different love languages.

What is a “love language”?

A love language is how a person both expresses love towards others and also feels love in return. It was introduced in 1995 by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book The 5 Love Languages. While this concept was discussed for couples, this can also be applied to relationships between friends, family members, and even between teachers and students.

Dr. Chapman introduced us to five love languages: words of affirmation, receiving gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch. With our students’ different personalities, it is expected they too have different love languages which we teachers should discover to know exactly how we can encourage them.

To help you understand and know more about this, especially how to express this during this time of pandemic, here is a list of love languages and how each communicates.

Words of Affirmation

A love language can be expressed and felt through praises and words of affirmation or encouragement. Students feel empowered to become better and repeat actions that teachers noticed good about them. You can even apply this when you are correcting your student for misconduct or schoolwork error they did. The “kiss-kick-kiss” is a good example of how to do this.

Kiss-Kick-Kiss is an assessment approach which both highlights the mistake and error of students. You start by sharing to them a positive thing you noticed in a situation or about them, followed by the details you don’t like and what you found wrong. Later you can end your assessment with a positive comment and encouragement.

Receiving Gifts

Another way of expressing love is by giving gifts. This love language focuses not what item to give or how much would it cost but rather on the thoughts placed when buying or preparing it. You can give a simple card, a letter, or a candy during their exam.

Acts of Service

Acts of service is another love language that is spoken by how we take care or help a person. Act of service may be expressed by taking the time for a one-on-one teaching session on a topic they find difficult to understand. Simple acts of helpfulness can touch their hearts.

Physical Touch

This may be a simple tap on the back for a job well done, a comforting hug, or an encouraging hand holding theirs. This can make a student feel protected too.

Unfortunately, this may not always be possible with the threat of the pandemic. Teachers may encourage parents to hug or tap the shoulders of their children, as appropriate.

Hugging or a nurturing touch is said to provide the brain with a positive stimulus that encourages emotional health and brain development. It triggers the release of oxytocin or the love hormone, that positively affects ones emotions and reduces stresses and anxieties.

Quality Time

This is the most common love language, and is shown by intentionally spending time with your student. Your presence as teacher makes them feel loved and valued. You may playing with them, sitting next to them and talking to them randomly, or, if you are teaching older students, bonding with them during coffee breaks or after school.

During this pandemic, simply giving time to answer their chat or having a video call is good. Some teachers, especially in areas with limited internet accessibility, do home visits from time to time to also meet a student’s family.

Showing love and appreciation to our students can be challenging thus why we teaching requires to go an extra mile. You will eventually discover how to express this to your students, whether individually or as a group. Remember that what really communicates to them more is your sincerity to care for them.

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