“Could speaking these simple words to our students, colleagues, employees really make that much of a difference?”
I think as an adult, what I say will have a lasting impact on my students for many years to come.
I remember when I was young and I was told by my parents many times that I could not draw or do art because I was too brainy and not as creative as my older sister. I also could not sew or do needlework like my middle sister because I was too brainy. I knew that these words were true because an adult said them to me.
I happened to go to the same schools as my older sisters did and had some of the same teachers. Again I heard the words that told me I was nothing like my older sisters. They were more athletic and able to use their hands to make things. I was nothing like that. It must have been true because an adult said it.
It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized that those words were not true. These people did not know the potential that I had. I’m sure they didn’t say it out of meanness but more out of ignorance. They didn’t know that they would shape my life for years to come.
I wanted so bad to do some creative things and in college, I decided to try counted cross stitch and loved it. Suddenly I was doing needlework and being creative. Some of the things I made were my own designs.
Years later I decided I wanted to learn how to do scrapbooking and I am still learning design techniques. But I am loving this! I love creating my own pages that have meaning to me.
Two years ago, I decided to learn how to crochet and knit. I am starting to make things that I can wear and be proud of. I am also making things for other people too.
Sometimes I look back and wonder how many creative years I wasted by believing in those simple words “you can’t” because an adult told me this.
As I talked to my students, I realized that over the years, they were also told they couldn’t do things because they had a disability. I told them that if there was no physical limitation from doing what they wanted to do, they should always work towards their dreams.
I decided that they needed to learn how to believe in themselves. I wanted to give them simple words to believe in like I wish I had when I was growing up. I required all of my students to write the class motto: “I am a Born Winner” on every paper they turned in. Every day we started class with me asking them what the class motto was. Throughout the year, we talked about what this meant and how it would help them. Years later, I have heard from former students who tell me that this statement is still making an impact on their lives.
Sometimes it is the simple words that can make a difference. I just hope that the simple words I use make a positive difference in a student’s life.
What simple words do you use in your classroom to make a difference?
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original image: 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/36613169@N00/503736339 by: Gisela Giardino