Every day, at the end of our morning together, my class stands up and holds hands in a circle, and sings the “School Family Song,” to the tune of “You are my Sunshine.”
You are my family, my school family,
I feel happy when you are here,
I hope you know, friends,
How much I love you,
When we’re apart,
I’ll keep you here.
(We put our hands on our hearts for the last line.) This song is from the book I Love You Rituals, by Becky Bailey, which is well worth getting for anyone who spends time with young children. I only use a few of the songs but with tremendous effect.
Last year, sometime early in the year, we drew pictures of our family members. K., who is an only child, had one more person in her picture than I expected. I sat down and asked her to tell me about the people in the picture.
“This is me, this is my mom, this is my dad, this is my grandpa, this is my teacher.”
“I’m in your family?” I asked, confused.
“Yes,” she said. And then it dawned on me.
“Is this because of our song? I’m in your school family?”
She beamed. And I felt so honored. (Also aware of my power, and how careful I need to be. When I sing a song about a school family with my students, they believe me. They believe everything I say. I need to be very, very careful about what I say.)
Anyway, we are a family. Each year, I have about twenty new children, and I’m sort of their teacher, sort of another mom. I love them, and I tell them so, and often, they love me back.