THE OPEN HAVERSACK: Teachers’ say?
The way you speak to and about children in your care could have a lasting effect on them socially, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. Regardless of the situation, there are some things that teachers should never say to students or the parents of their students.
• This is the worst class in the whole school.
Labelling students will cause them to react and behave according to the label. Telling students that they are the worst means you think other classes are better. This is damaging to the self-esteem of students and will not make them more focused. Try using positive rewards for good behaviour.
• You should understand this.
Sometimes students have difficulty understanding a concept being taught – especially if it is a new one. No matter how frustrating it might become for some teachers, using strong negative language will destroy students. If students are having trouble grasping information, then there is a need to re-examine the methodology used and approach instruction from a different angle. Providing individual attention periodically to students who are experiencing challenges can send the message that the teacher cares.
• Try harder – are you stupid?
This is a definite no-no. Each student has a different ability level. Telling a student to try harder without giving any other insight can only embarrass and frustrate the student. Teachers need to create the environment that will motivate and stimulate their students. They must take into consideration that some students might have undiscovered learning disabilities and might be trying as hard as they can.
• You are not going to amount to anything, anyway.
Teachers cannot see the future. They have no idea what each child in his or her class will turn out to be. They should tap into their students, discover their unique potential and use it to motivate them; encourage them to be the best they can to be.
• Your child is not that bright.
No matter how friendly teachers are with parents, there is never an appropriate time to utter those words. Some children are not as gifted as others, but there is a right way and a wrong way to share information. When delivering difficult information to parents, always try to highlight something positive about the student.
• I have not been able to correct the student’s work.
If a teacher is too busy to correct the work that was set, then there is a need to examine why it was assigned. Students should be able to get instant feedback about their progress.
• I hate this school; I don’t know why I was sent here.
Whether or not teachers like the school to which they are assigned, they are there to provide a public and national service. It goes beyond academic instruction. If they are not satisfied in their jobs, there are other options available.
All children are emotionally weak and are prone to becoming what you say they are. Kudos to those teachers who go beyond the call of duty, giving selflessly to the education and upliftment of our most prized possessions – our children.
• Rhonda A. Blackman is an educator, a National Development Scholar and former president of the Early Childhood Association of Barbados Inc.