the power of our words

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I came across this quote on Pinterest one day, and I felt instantly convicted. I tend to get a little snarky and sarcastic with my students when they walk in with their middle school attitudes and drama. Usually I am very good-natured with them, but at times I lose my patience and put those crazies in their place with an arched eyebrow, a pointed finger and a subtle insult. Of course it’s necessary to be firm, but instead of snapping, “Seriously? Are you like, five years old? Get it together, Gavin,” maybe I could say, “Gavin, you’re really good at this type of question. Try it out and stay focused, dude.”

On the other hand, I really can’t stand it when teachers talk to middle schoolers like they’re in Kindergarten. You will never ever hear me say, “Good morning, boys and girls! Today we are going to go on a learning adventure and discover how George Washington became the first president of the United States!” Yuck.

But there is a very wide middle ground between being insincerely sugary sweet and practically bullying your students into humiliated submission. Different teachers bring with them different personalities (thank goodness!) so your middle ground won’t look exactly the same as mine. This quote is a great reminder, though, that our words have the potential to ring in our students’ ears. I know people who never forgot harsh words spoken by parents or teachers. But fortunately, it would be fantastic if our students internalized comments like, “That was a fabulous question!” or, “You are such a hard worker!” or, “Wow, this group is lucky to have your drawing skills for their project!” Let’s give them a leg up on that whole finding-your-inner-voice thing while we can. 🙂

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