On speaking to students…

I remember watching an Oprah show back when I was in high school.. yes apparently I had the habits of middle aged housewife but I digress. On that particular show, she was talking about how she had a teacher when she was 9 who told her that she was beautiful. She explained how that single comment changed her life.

I started thinking about my own high school experience. I honestly don’t recall receiving any sort of positive validation from my teachers. No life changing comments or pieces of advice or anything. (Correction: I did have a computer teacher who told me that when I became fwustrated with my computer, I should get up and go get a dwink… valuable stuff really). However on a personal level, what I mainly remember from high school is being embarrassed. I have several vivid memories of teachers snapping at me about things and saying phrases that actually still ring in my ears. I know, I know, it’s been over 15 years.. let it go already! I have and this really isn’t a pity party post by any means. I think I’ve done a bang up job of getting on with my life and not letting a mediocre high school experience taint that but the fact that I can so clearly remember comments that I’m almost 100% sure were off the cuff, in a moment of reaction, not meant very much at all– concerns me when I think of what I do for a living.
I’m with an “impressionable age group” all day long. Not only that but this impressionable age group is entirely female. Hormones rage, emotions fly off the wall, life is all kinds of crazy. I think of how often I am not careful with my words. How I can carelessly over react and say something in the heat of the moment. Something I don’t mean very much at all. I shudder to think of what my students may take away from their experiences with me. I need to clarify by saying that it’s not often that I fly off the handle in moments of impatience.. in fact it rarely happens but I just wonder if I have said things and if some kid is going to remember that moment that her mean old English teacher said…..
I can’t focus on those things though. I can only be really careful to take the time to give positive comments to the kids I come in contact with. I need to be purposeful in praising their successes and kindly deal with their less than stelar moments. To make sure that every action I make is out of love and not anger, impatience or general tiredness… needs to be at the front of my mind. Each. And. Every. Day.
I think I’ve written about something similar before and it came back to me the other day while I was with one of my classes– thinking about words and how they have the power to completely undo a person.. or more happily– completely alter her life for the better.
I do pray every morning that God would give me love for the people He places on my daily path (prayers of an introvert right there!) and I must continue to remember that every word I say counts.
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One thought on “On speaking to students…

  1. Hey Jess, reminds me of a family verse we would quote quite often – Eph 4:29 “let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is useful for building others up according to their need”. Loved this post about the power of words and a useful reminder to all of us whether we’re teachers or not, thanks Jess!

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