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It happened the other day. One of my ‘friends’ on Facebook had a birthday. I was wishing her well, on her page, when I noticed another person she was friends with. A former teacher. THAT teacher.
I was an excellent student. I was involved in all kinds of extra-curricular activities, was a straight A student, graduated as a Valedictorian. As a young student I wanted to go into journalism. I was a school publications editor-in-chief from eighth grade through eleventh grade. I had aspired to be a reporter or a writer, or possibly even an editor at a publishing company. Once I got into high school, the publications instructor was THAT teacher; the one who shot down every aspiration and dream I had. The one who criticized everything I wrote, every decision I made. And not in a constructive way. She talked about me to other staff members and other students. She made my eleventh grade year miserable. So miserable in fact that I gave up on journalism and didn’t pursue it any further come my senior year. I allowed her to steal from me everything I had wanted to do for eight years. I allowed her to crush me. I allowed her to create in me a question as to my competency for something I viewed as a strength.
I’ve had several amazing teachers who have stuck with me throughout my adult life. I’ve had many mediocre teachers who, sadly, I don’t really even remember. This teacher though, was the ONE awful teacher who has stuck with me longer than all the rest, the one that I use on a daily basis to act as my example to NOT model. If I don’t affect my students in any other way at all, Lord help me to NOT be like this teacher.
So, for those of us who have ever experienced a teacher like the one mentioned above, here are five things to never steal from our students:
1. Aspirations. No matter what our opinions are on our students’ dreams, it is not our place to deny them the chance to dream. We are the cheerleaders. We are the encouragers. We are the ones who introduce experiences. We are NOT the ones who should rob them of opportunities, even if we think they might not be ‘cut out’ for what they aspire.
2. Self-confidence. We should build up all of our students, even the prickly ones: ESPECIALLY the prickly ones. Kids have enough garbage to face in the world today that tears down their self-esteem. We need to be in their corner, at all times that we are present in their lives.
3. Grades. Whatever type of grading system you use, it should never be based on your feelings for a student. Students should earn their grades. Great work equals great grades. Sub-par work equals sub-par grades. Poor grades should NOT be given just because you don’t particularly ‘like’ a student. Period.
4. Award refusal. High school teachers, listen up. If you have a student who deserves an award or who qualifies for an award, do not withhold that award from that student just because you don’t like the student. Don’t put that type of blemish on their high school transcript and college applications.
5. Reputation. Finally don’t discuss your feelings for students to other students. Loose lips sink ships. What’s worse is talking about a student in a non-constructive way to other teachers. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
Our positions as teachers are precarious, really. We hold the cards for a lot of our students, especially the ones who are teetering on the brink of being exalted or being extinguished.
Which type of teacher are you choosing to be?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]