I recently read the book The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, and in it he discusses our “love tanks.” Briefly stated, our love tanks are gauges of how much emotional love we feel. Recalling Maslow’s hierarchy, belonging/love is the first level above basic needs, thus the importance of having our love tanks full. This made me think of the students I have taught over the years, especially the ones who were hard to reach. Had I helped to fill their love tanks?
Dr. Chapman describes the five languages that makes us feel loved—words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. For each person, one of these is the primary language which communicates love to them. As an educator, I have learned about the positive effects of praise as well as its various forms. Positive praise makes us all feel good, however it does not fill everyone’s love tank. For the love language quality time, it can be as simple as taking a couple of minutes to have a conversation with a student or reading with them. A gift does not need to be lavish, just a pen or eraser will do. Sharpening a students’ pencil is an act of service. A handshake, high five, or pat on the back is what is meant by physical touch.
Each day greet your students at the door with a handshake and a specific affirming word. Then, as students are completing their warm-up activity, circulate the room to give a student a missing supply or to sharpen a pencil. Take a minute or two to get down on a student’s visual level and ask how their day is going. By doing this within the first five minutes of class, you are setting the stage for a successful day by adding to your students’ tanks.
In the upcoming weeks, the new school year will begin. As you meet your students think about the condition of their love tanks. Also, plan what you can intentionally do each day to fill their tanks. Just like a car cannot operate on an empty tank of gas, a student cannot learn without love in their tank.