Quiet time. Darkness. Yanni soothing my sprouts to a calm rest. One by one, they file over and begin hugging both Mrs. D. and myself. A few of them going back and forth like ping pong balls… hugging me, hugging her, then back to me. They were staying quiet. They were lining up. They were loving their hugs.

When they finally settled down, I leaned over to Mrs. D. and whispered, “Did you have this much hugging in your classroom last year?”

“No way,” she replied.

“Me either… I wonder why?” I asked.

“It’s the community we’ve built,” she replied.

She’s right. Last year I had my one hugger and a few very affectionate others, but nothing like this… almost every one of our students gives hugs. Some more than others, a few have never given one, but I can count them on one hand. They all feel comfortable hugging. Some needed some time to see others and know it was permissible, but once they knew, the hugs haven’t stopped.

One little boy, Jason, who refused a hug from me a few weeks ago when I asked if I could give him one as a thank you after he presented me with a picture, offered one up today. I was pleasantly surprised.

Others, like Martin and Audra hug non stop. They find any excuse to come over and give a hug, but for the most part, they keep them to transitions and non-teaching times. They understand how to ask and are all right if we say ‘not now’ which happens from time to time.

This community of learners we’ve created from the unfamiliar little friends who entered our room back in August just bowls me over. They have blossomed into the most respectable and downright sweet bunch you’ve ever seen. They give back two-fold. I leave each day exhausted, but I go back the next morning with a big smile on my face. A hundred or so hugs a day will do that to you.