Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Words Can Hurt

In Sticks and Stones… from Blogush, Paul Bogush states,

“The words that are chosen by a teacher carry so much meaning and power. I think we all forget just how much power we have. When a kid falls down in class and forgets homework, does poorly on a test, or even is the biggest thorn in our side, we have a choice to use words that beat them down or lift them up. Great teachers do not focus on beating kids down and putting them in their “place.” Great teachers lift kids up with their words and reveal to students that they can do what they previously thought was impossible. They find a way to give their kids wings.”

After reading this, it reminds me how powerful my words are and the impact they have on my students. Not only are my words important, but my tone of voice and my body language is also important. Students analyze everything teachers say and how they say it.

I remember when I was a student and a teacher complimented me, I was always looking for ways to tell if the words were sincere or if these were words that were said to every student. It was hard for me to accept a compliment because they were pretty rare when I was in school. It seemed that teachers saw their roles as being the Great Criticizer, not the Great Complimenter. I understood criticism because it was always explained to me that I would learn from my mistakes so criticism was a good thing. I was so used to criticism that I even expected it. When I was given a compliment, I waited for the other shoe to drop and the criticism to make an appearance. If it didn’t arrive, I was suspicious of the compliment. I felt that I must have missed the criticism which was probably included in the compliment somewhere. I wonder if my students feel the same way.

How many teachers use encouraging words on a regular basis? I think teachers are even so used to criticizing that they don’t really know how to encourage. It has become a habit of pointing out the wrong things our students do that we forget to look for the good things and encourage them to do them. Finding the good things may be hard at first, but the more we do it, the easier it will become. Maybe if we encourage more often rather than criticizing, our students would be willing to take risks and try harder. I think it would be a good practice to try to find at least one positive thing to say about each student we teach.

I want to help my students find their wings and fly! Thanks for Paul for the reminder. I plan to try harder about watching my words and how I deliver them.

Original image: 'Flying High....' http://www.flickr.com/photos/66164549@N00/2334005733 by: Keven Law

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