Teachers should guard against loose comments

A teacher writing on the black board

Teachers are not perfect. We make mistakes and occasionally exercise poor judgment, like any other erring being. In fact, there are times that we are simply overwhelmed; times we lose focus; times we cannot remember why we choose to stay committed to this profession.  These things are human nature. Yet even in such moments must we guard ourselves against loose verbal outbursts.

This is not in any way intended to mean that teachers lack emotional intelligence, or the patience needed in the profession, rather, a deep understanding of the frailty of mankind and the fact that teachers command a lot of attention from the students. With that said, there are several things that teachers should never say because they are detrimental to our mission, undermine our authority, and create barriers that should not exist. As teachers, our words and actions are powerful.  We have the power to transform, but we also have the power to tear apart.  Our words should always be chosen carefully.

One of the utterances we should not make is “I don’t care if my students like me.” As a teacher, you better care whether or not your students like you. Teaching is often more about relationships than it is about teaching itself. If your students do not like or trust you, you will not be able to maximise the time you have with them.  When students genuinely like a teacher, the teacher's job as a whole becomes much simpler, and they are able to accomplish more. Establishing a good rapport with your students ultimately leads to greater success.

Another is: “You will never be able to do that.”No teachers should crush any student’s dreams.  As educators, we should not be in the business of predicting futures, but of opening doors to the future.  When we tell our students they can’t do something, we place a limiting threshold on what they may try to become. Teachers are great influencers. We want to show students a pathway to achieving success, rather than telling them they will never get there, even when the odds are against them.

Even worse is saying, “That’s a stupid question!” Teachers should always be willing to answer a student’s questions about a lesson or content they are learning in class. Students must always feel comfortable and encouraged to ask questions. When a teacher refuses to answer a student’s question, they are discouraging the entire class to withhold questions. The importance of student questions cannot be over emphasised as they can extend learning and provide teachers with direct feedback allowing them to assess whether or not students understand the material.

Even expressions like, “I’ve already gone over that. You should have been listening” must be avoided at all costs. No two students are the same; they all process things differently. 


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