Recruitment & Retention Opinion

Creating Moments Our Students Will Remember

November 29, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

By Allison Riddle

After the birth of my second child, I took my beautiful six-week-old daughter in for her first check up. I knew what to expect, but I was surprised at what happened when the doctor came in to join us. He scooped my baby into his arms and nuzzled her into his chest. Then, as he stood swaying from side to side, he said, “So, how are things going?”

No stethoscope, no exam, no blood draw.

“Is there something I need to know?” I asked him. “Is everything okay?”

“Everything is fine,” he laughed. “I just miss this part. I love taking time to cuddle the new ones.”

That day I learned something that made this brilliant doctor much more human to me. He appreciated simply enjoying his patients. I felt cared for and appreciated because we were important people in his life, not just his patients.

As educators, our profession is very different from medicine, but there are parallels. We, too, observe our ‘patients'—we ask them questions and assess their needs. We observe their challenges and analyze evidence and data in order to diagnose and generate action plans for learning problems. We administer tests and use the results to make critical decisions. We prescribe strategies for skill development and recovery. We confer with parents and share with them suggestions for helping their kids develop ‘healthy learning’ habits at home. Indeed, the work we do each day in school is very clinical in nature.

Still, like my daughter’s doctor, I’m often eager to stop and appreciate my own students. I want to put aside the scheduled lessons, drills and formative assessments and just enjoy them as little humans. Sometimes I want to just take in the moment, talk or eat lunch with them, and smile and giggle as they tell stories of their weekend adventure.

The daily demand and depth of instructional practice is such that there seems to be little time for this luxury of basic human interaction, much like in medicine. In recent years, the disproportionate focus on standardized testing has greatly reduced the minutes teachers can spend connecting with students on a more social level. In the elementary grades, far fewer hours are spent on aesthetic experiences involving the arts. The pressures of assessment performance compel teachers to focus most on completing the scheduled set of weekly reading and math lessons and tests. Gone are the days of long art projects, kickball games, or impromptu singing, dancing or dramatic readings. We must always stay on schedule.

I have never forgotten that day when my responsible, respected family doctor took the time to cuddle my new baby and ask how things were going for us. He calmed my fears and gave me a moment of joy watching someone appreciate the perfect baby I had created. Reflecting on this experience, I want to find spaces to do the same as often as needed in my classroom. Let’s all make the moments to ‘cuddle’ our students in a rich discussion, share family stories, ask their opinions, take selfies, dance to music, appreciate falling snowflakes, or whatever the moment brings. Our students will little remember the weekly spelling or reading quizzes, but they will no doubt remember how they felt when they were in our classrooms.

Allison Riddle is the 2014 Utah Teacher of the Year and a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY). She is the Elementary Mentor Supervisor for Davis School District in Farmington, Utah.

The opinions expressed in Teacher-Leader Voices are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Recruitment & Retention This District Built a Better, More Reliable Supply of Substitute Teachers. Here's How
A Rhode Island school district tackles one of the biggest staffing challenges for school administrators. So far, it's working.
6 min read
Substitutes size is fine
Recruitment & Retention Many Feared an Educator Exodus From the Pandemic. It Doesn't Seem to Have Happened. Yet.
A RAND Corporation survey of district leaders finds that predictions about principals and teachers fleeing their jobs haven't panned out.
5 min read
People form two lines in front of an Exit sign
Recruitment & Retention Schools Pay a High Price for Low Teacher Salaries
Teacher turnover rates are rising and more than half of teachers said a salary hike could persuade them to stay in the classroom longer.
4 min read
Conceptual image of salary.
Collage by Laura Baker/Education Week (Images: iStock/Getty)
Recruitment & Retention How 'Grow-Your-Own' Programs Are Helping Recruit Teachers of Color
Learn which strategies are working to recruit and support future teachers of color.
6 min read
Diverse team builds a geometric shapes structure together
Rudzhan Nagiev/iStock /Getty Images Plus