Mind what you say, you never know the impact it will have

Mind what you say, you never know the impact it will have

Teachers are a powerful force in any child’s upbringing.  They can spend up to a third of the day educating young and curious minds.  This education can often times influence a child’s prospects for the future.  Students look up to teachers.  They see their educators as all-knowing beings.  They can’t fathom a teacher not knowing something.  If you are a parent reading this, how many times has your child corrected you based on something his or her teacher said to him?  Sometimes, teachers neglect the effect their words and actions have on kids.  One word can make all the difference between have a future Rhode’s Scholar and a drop-out.

You’ll never go wrong with some encouraging words

The 60’s were marked by a change in conscience and minds opening up to new methods of going about things.  One of the greatest revolutions happened in education.  It was pretty common back then for teachers to not worry about what they said to students.  That all changed in 1968 when two researchers conducted a controversial study (for the time) which led to an educational breakthrough.  Robert Rosenthal and Lenore F. Jacobson would forever change education with their study demonstrating how the Pygmalion Effect can alter student performance in the classroom.  In essence they concluded that when teachers had positive expectations for their students, they would show better results in how they performed academically.

The things teachers say to their student have a direct impact on how they do things.  Positive reinforcement is key for helping students achieve their true potential.  Additionally, it’s a great way to help students cope with failure.   It might be difficult at times to reach students, sure.  But if there is one value or trait that best defines a teacher is patience.

Finding the right thing to say to a pupil can take some time, but when you find the right words you can bet students will react.  When they see someone who truly cares and worries about them, as well as highlighting what no one else sees, student will go the extra step to make sure they meet the teacher’s expectations.

Strengths are not the only things that educators should make positive remarks on.  Encouraging students through their weaknesses is just as, if not more, important.  Giving students examples of people who have overcome similar weaknesses shows students that something negative can always be used as a motivator to grow.  “Nothing is as bad as it seems”, students need to hear these words from time to time.

Don’t be a downer

Positive words and encouragement can be a powerful tool to get students to value themselves and do things they never knew they could achieve.  Nonetheless, there is something even stronger and which possibly makes a longer impact in children’s lives.  Negativity.  When someone with a fragile and easily influenceable mind gets accustomed to hearing they aren’t good at something or that they will never live up to expectations, they start believing it.  They do it to the point where they won’t even try to do something because their mind has already decided they will fail.

The latter is extremely sad.  Students should not have a “no point in trying mentality.”  A teacher should never utter things like, “I don’t even know why I bother,” “I can’t believe you haven’t gotten it,” “You’ll never amount to much in life.”  That’s not being a teacher.  That’s being a jerk.  Jerks are not welcome at school, especially if they are the ones in charge of the education of future generations.

Image courtesy of Nestlé at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Nestlé at Flickr.com

The final word

Teachers should inspire, motivate, and get the most out of their students.  They need to understand how influential they can be in a student’s life.  We will always remember the greatest and worst teachers we had.  A lot of times how we do so depends on how they treated us and how they reached us.  The words they use to address students are crucial to their performance.  Additionally, they can have an impact on what students become and how they go about new challenges.  Sometimes teachers forget that they are more responsible for a child’s development than they think.  It’s important for them to stay the course and always believe in a student’s abilities, even if the same student doesn’t believe in him or herself.   Even though positive feedback could take a little while longer to set in (especially in students with low self-esteem), teachers can never falter in their efforts to help students be the best they can be.  It is up to them to help students believe in themselves and gain the confidence to know they can achieve whatever they put their minds to.

Feedback is only one of the things that can affect a student’s outcome in life.  Take a look at the Dwyer Family Foundation  to see how teachers can help students even further.  You will also find information and insight into what parents can do to work together with teachers.  

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