As a child, I remember the whole "Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!".... but that's a lie. Words have tremendous power to hurt and to heal, which I've been reminded of a few times this week.
In college, this quote by Haim Ginott made a huge impression on me:
I remember using this quote in my first teaching portfolio and I'm pretty sure it will be displayed in my classroom next year as a reminder of teaching through a pandemic and how much influence we have.
My pastor's sermon today was on the power of the tongue - his official title for the sermon was "The World's Smallest yet Largest Troublemaker" - and isn't that so true? The scriptures he referenced were Matthew 15:10-20 and James 3:1-12
With our words, we can set a spark and that can be good or bad. Fire can be used in good ways - to warm us, to ignite passions, to spread those passions to others - but it can be used in bad ways too... to tear down and destroy.
Friday was a bittersweet day for me as I said goodbye to the students that kept me going through the 2020-2021 school year for the last time. But, not only that, I also am saying goodbye to the district that has been my home for 21 years. A former student upon hearing that I was leaving, sent me an email reminding me of the power of words:
You were one of my few math instructors in my secondary education that didn't make me feel less than because math wasn't my strongest subject. I never once felt demoralized under your tutelage. Thank you so much for that respect and kindness, particularly in a time of life (the teen years, OMG!) when we're tender and looking for our place in the world. I always felt valuable in your presence.
As we leave our classrooms for the summer and start to prepare for next year, let us remember that tremendous power that our attitudes, actions, and words have on those around us.