A friend of mine has a daughter who has just joined a new school. She wants to be a civil engineer and is taking Further Maths at A level to help her achieve that goal. She is a very bright girl but has started a month after the others in class, so is currently trying to catch up.
Her teacher took her to one side last week and asked her if she really wanted to do Further Maths as she was holding the others back and therefore might be better suited to another maths course…..
The effect was to completely shatter the girl’s confidence and has resulted in the Headmaster becoming involved to try and sort the situation out. The teacher’s intentions were to try and do the best for the pupil but her choice of language, to “blame” her for holding back the rest of the class, has had completely the opposite effect.
Thankfully one to one tutoring sessions have been put in place to help her catch up with the rest of the group and her goal remains intact.
This is just one small example of how much impact we can have on others through our approach and choice of language. One of my son’s teachers is proud of her “tough teacher” reputation at school and is pleased to be told that pupils are afraid of her.
She is very good at finding fault with his work and doesn’t appear to believe that children learn better when given suitable praise and recognition. Her opening gambit to us at a recent Parents evening was “Well of course, English isn’t his best subject is it….” and then proceeded to give us all the reasons why this was the case. When I suggested that she was essentially saying that he was poor at English (like his father!), she said “Oh no, he’s absolutely fine, there is nothing for you to worry about at all.”
We also queried the fact that he didn’t appear to be learning anything in his Spanish lessons; she suggested that if we wanted him to learn Spanish we should take him to Spain on holiday! I would like to think she was joking, but there was nothing else in her demeanour to suggest this was the case.
I don’t believe for one second that her intention is to criticise and would no doubt be horrified to think she was having such a negative impact on the children she teaches.
I was doing some work last week about emotional intelligence and the importance of not only understanding our own emotions and how to manage them, but also how much more you can achieve by improving our understanding of others and the impact we can have on them through our actions and behaviours. I think there are some teachers out there that would benefit from working on their emotional intelligence!
There are some fantastic teachers out there, so why not share with us your best and worst stories? Post a comment now to tell us about those that inspired you.