It is easy to agree with great ideas presented by subject matter experts. I can remember watching Dangerous Minds and thinking that I would love to have the kind of impact on people who the teacher did in that movie. It is no wonder that I find myself constantly agreeing with LouAnne Johnson while I’m reading Teaching Outside the Box, Mrs. Johnson wrote the book that inspired Dangerous Minds.
In the latest sections that I have read, I agreed with several things Mrs. Johnson wrote. I found the section “There is no Such Thing as a Casual Remark to a Child,” particularly interesting. I can recall some rather unprofessional things that some of my former educators made about myself and fellow students both under their breath or in front of the entire classroom. My third grade teacher telling me that I was stupid in front of my class still chokes me up nearly bringing a tear to my eye.
LouAnne Johnson says, “Sometimes I think we forget how impressionable children are (even adolescents). We forget how excruciating the smallest pain can be, how exhilarating the tiniest victory, and how lasting the effect of a comment from an adult they admire (42).” I agree completely. We must strive to maintain a level of professionalism at all times that keeps our own emotions from flaring up when students prod at us for a negative reaction and we must have the compassion to recognize when a kind word could easily be the spark that could ignite the flame of learning for a student.
Johnson tells a story where she complemented two students within moments of each other. Both Students shared the compliments with their parents and both parents in return spoke with Johnson. She spoke of being proud that she had given the students positive recognition and that she had forgotten about making each compliment until the parents came to speak with her. At first she was happy, then, after the second parent left she felt a sense of awe at her own power to shape, mold, and motivate another human with such power that they will forever be changed from a five second conversation.
I agree that as teachers we have, perhaps, the greatest power of influence than any other occupation. We must choose our words, smiles, frowns and laughter very carefully because we can literally change a person’s life in a matter of seconds. Perhaps, the best way for us to ensure our actions help motivate for a positive change within all of our students.