Words are important. Not only are they important, but they are also impactful. I have been thinking about words and the power they wield a lot this week. How we speak can resonate throughout the universe, in our hearts, and our minds. Once we put those words out into the universe, there is no taking them back. If they are damaging, yes, the wound they create can be healed, but the damage cannot be undone. Having the self-discipline to think before we speak, having the control to weigh our words' weight before we release them is something everyone can do, should strive to do before we use this powerful weapon.
As a former English teacher, I worked with children and words daily for a decade. I knew the power I held. I understood that the words I chose could either build someone up or tear someone down. I knew that what may seem insignificant to me could be impactful to someone else. I took my power and my authority very seriously. It has been brought to my attention that some are working with children who have forgotten how damaging the weapon of words can be to a young person. My bean has a friend who is struggling right now, and it breaks my heart.
A child should never be fearful of entering a space of learning. A young person should never feel embarrassed or humiliated because he or she is not perfect. One's imperfections should never be held up for public scrutiny or used as a tool to tear down an individual. Public humiliation should never be used as a tool of classroom management. If one is resorting to public humiliation as a classroom management tool, one should reflect upon where they are on their journey and why they are working with young people. Perhaps it is time to take a new path and allow someone who is not overwhelmed, lost their passion, or feels the need to prove their intellectual superiority over a group of eleven and twelve-year-olds to take this important journey with young people.
I retired from teaching before I became jaded. I retired before I lost my ability to view young people as individuals who are all on a path but at different places on their journey. I never lost the insight that my students were humans beings, each with strengths and weaknesses. My rule as a teacher was to follow the golden rule. I never treated a young person any less than I would want to be treated. I had a reputation for not putting up with any nonsense, and I often handled disciplinary issues on my own, but I had very few issues. I missed teaching for many years after I retired. When September would arrive, I felt itchy, like I was missing something. However, I do not regret leaving when I did. My path has taken me where I need to be.
This year has been challenging for all. It has been especially challenging for our young people and educators. We are all dealing with scenarios we never imagined. However, we cannot lose our humanity in the throes of chaos. No matter our position, we need to understand that words are weapons, and can either be used to build or destroy. It is important to walk your path in mindfulness. Be mindful of your reactions, your words, your behaviors. Years from now, when our journey has taken us to new places, how do you want to be remembered? Will you be a supporter who works in light or a destroyer who creates pain and darkness?
As always, dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, use the weapon of words wisely, and wash your hands.