Teachers know that teaching is extremely rewarding, but we also carry a heavy burden. Every single thing that comes out of our mouths or we show through actions is teaching children something, whether we mean to or not. Like it or not, our words matter to children. I was reminded of this important fact yesterday while talking to a child. Let's call him Sam.
"Sam" has had a lot going on in his life lately. He's completely brilliant, but sometimes lacks motivation to do well. Lately, I've really been on him about working hard, doing his best, etc...and this week I noticed that he was working really, really hard to do his best. I was impressed. I knew I needed to praise him for his effort so I called him outside in the hall to speak to him privately (reassuring him that he was not in trouble).
We get outside and I proceed to tell "Sam" how proud I am of his hard work. "I've noticed that you have really been putting forth a lot of effort, and I'm really proud of you. You're so smart and you're making great choices."
Then I looked in his eyes. This precious child has tears in his eyes! I reach to give him a side-hug, (still acceptable where I'm from) and he hugged me back, hard! That 30 second exchange made his day!
As we walked back into the room, all I could think of was how I'm so glad I took the time to give that child what he needed to hear. What an awesome reward. What an awesome responsibility.