Today has been a reminder about the power of words and the necessity to choose them carefully. On a student's paper, a word from me was written that hurt more than it helped, that caused upset, frustration, and sadness for a parent. I didn't mean that at all. I've worked to build confidence and show encouragement all year, but one quick move of my pen changed the positive feelings and caused hurt.
As teachers, we make so many decisions each day, each moment. We try to honor students, challenge them, comfort them, and also push them to do what we know they could do. Always their best interest is at heart. Still, to know that I caused pain by a word on the page is so regrettable to me, so opposite from my intentions.
Amends will be made. I will speak to the parent and explain and apologize. I will never, ever write anything on a student's paper anymore that could be interpreted as deflating or mean. It was a humbling day, a reminder of the heaviness that every word I say and write holds when it comes to children and their efforts to learn.
I feel embarrassed and sad about the incident. Informed about it at lunch, the rest of my day was difficult as it weighed on my mind. I was close to tears until the end of the day when I related the story to caring colleagues and I cried. My colleagues reminded me what we would say to a child who made a mistake: We would forgive easily, we would say you will do better next time and it's okay because we all do make mistakes. I hate to make mistakes and most especially hate to make ones that cause others to feel hurt.
So, all in all, not my best day in the classroom. A lesson learned. A reminder that my words and actions have immediate consequences and I need to always be thoughtful. I spent the rest of the day trying to put more positive words into the world to make up for the one that hurt. I emailed my colleague to thank her for listening to me and making me feel better that afternoon. I publicly thanked my son's preschool teacher for being so kind and wonderful. I want my words to encourage and spread joy. I want to take back the one that caused pain but words don't work that way. I've always believed, "When you know better, you do better." I know better now. I'll do better.