Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Power of Positive Words

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue..." (Proverbs 18:21 ESV).

Okay, so I am meant to be on "holidays" but as a teacher that means spending my "down time" to plan for next term and get prepared for end of year reports!!!

So I was looking through my students results and one child in particular caught my attention. At the beginning of the year I thought he would have to repeat - see, he was this cute little button who his parents and siblings did everything for. He had 'learned helplessness', but at times it appeared as though it was more than that - almost like a learning difficulty. So when I saw just how much he had improved, (he made it to C- yay!) I thought about what it was that did it for him.

I remember back to a particular day when we were doing addition. Now, this worksheet had two sides - an easy and a hard side. I had been sitting with him helping him with the activity prior to the worksheet so I said to him, "Have a go by yourself, and when I come back I want to see you have finished one page." He needed a bit of a push so I even showed him which side to start, pointing to the first question and talked him through it - then went to help other students.

By the time I got back he had his head in his hands, looked up and me with this helpless look and said, "I tried but I just can't do it!" I looked at his finished page and exclaimed, "You did the hard side!" I sat down fully expecting to see it all wrong, but was very surprised to find he had finished the page correctly (and no one else beside him had finished that page).

"Guess what!", I said with joy, "You got them all right! You got the hard ones right!"

"Really?" He said, looking at his work, with these wide open eyes, "I told myself to have a go like you said and I did it!"

"I am so proud of you," I said. "For that you get a stamp on your page."

He was so happy he hopped straight up and ran to his friends at a nearby table telling and showing them about his work he did by himself and how proud I was of him.

In the weeks to follow I made sure to praise his efforts, no matter how small they were. Eventually, his mum caught me after school one day and said, "All he ever talks about is how clever he is and how proud you are of him. Thank you so much for getting through to him."

I was blown away that those simple words, "I am proud of you", could change a little boy's self worth, and in turn his parents view of him as capable instead of helpless.

It is true what the Bible says concerning our words:

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29 ESV)

"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body" (Proverbs 16:24 ESV).

God really is teaching me a lot about my words and their power. Not long after I made this connection with the student in my class I saw this Joel Osteen sermon : Be Positive or Be Quiet. I recommend you all go watch it right now!

So, all you teachers out there, or anyone who works with children - watch what you are saying. Speak only positive things over your students and see their potential as learners.

There's a message here too for everyone - be positive or be quiet. Our words have so much power in them. We can make or break someones day just be what we are about to say. The same goes for what you say about yourself or your life.

So, my challenge to you today is: BE POSITIVE OR BE QUIET.

Stay joyful!

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