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Saturday, December 31, 2016


Haim G. Ginott was a teacher, child psychologist, and psychotherapist.  Although written in the 70’s, his book BETWEEN PARENT AND CHILD has relevance today. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized. 

If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.

And you’re going to LOVE this one…

Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. 

The miracle is that at times they accomplish this impossible task.

As you begin 2017, reflect on what an enormous ability you have to do GOOD every day.  Yes, the expectations are often impossible, but it's not about a test score or data.  It's about those little person who spends most of her waking hours with you.  You can give them a little joy - you can show them this is a good world - you can give them HOPE!  

"Raheem's Gift" was written by one of my student teachers in her journal over fifteen years ago. It was an inspiration to me then, and I hope it will remind you of what a difference you can make in just one child’s life in 2017.

Last night I painted a box for a gift for Raheem. Raheem was the only kid in kindergarten who did not have a backpack. I wanted to give him one without creating any animosity from his guardian. I didn’t want them to feel like it was charity so I gave it to him as a reward for perfect behavior. I painted a peaceful scene on the box; big happy sun, apple trees, mountains, lake, and sky. I glued cotton on the lake for a duck and in the sky for clouds.

Raheem is the little boy who never smiles but he always listens. At circle time I announced to the class that I was giving a gift to the one person who never got their name on the board, never had to be reminded to finish their work, and always followed directions. Most of them automatically pointed to Raheem. They already knew who the person was. He came and got his gift and started for the closet. He proudly hung his backpack up with the others and started for his seat. He put the box under his chair and came back to the circle.

After a while I caught Raheem staring at me. He had a look of total disbelieve. I could almost hear his inner voice saying. “I can’t believe she noticed me.”

Every day I’ve been in this class I’ve noticed Raheem. He is so silent and reserved. He very rarely speaks, but when he does it’s in such a little mouse whisper that you have to literally put your ear to his mouth to hear him. At first I could not imagine what he must have been through in his short life to be so incredibly sad. Now I understand.

Raheem’s mother is addicted to crack. He stays with an aunt. I know he can’t possibly understand why she’s not here for him. My heart bleeds for him. I can’t even imagine having such a horrible fate.

Now I’m left wondering how I could possibly make this little boy understand that the reason his mother abandoned him has nothing to do with him. The reason she is incapable of giving him the love every child deserves from their mother is an illness - a drug addiction. I wonder if any length of time could ever heal his little broken heart. I doubt it. I’m sure he will always have emotional hang-us and scars. I can only hope he will recognize the reason and deal with his emotions constructively.

Teaching is a very empowering experience. At school I make a difference in children’s lives. Hopefully, one great enough to carry out of school and spread around a bit.

Raheem was unusually perky today.