SOL 3/3 Words Are Powerful

  3 of 31 for the Slice of Life Challenge from Two Writing Teachers
How can one comment make a day go from great to terrible in a minute?  I've experienced this more in my life than I really care to admit.  Maybe it was the day that I thought I looked great, only to have someone say "You are wearing that?" It could of been the day that I thought I had everything done for class, only to walk in and find out I did the wrong assignment.  Ever have these kinds of experiences?  Sometimes constructive criticism may be said to be helpful, but it only comes off as hurtful to the ears receiving that message.  Sometimes the criticism goes from constructive to just day-in and day-out verbal torture.

As a middle school teacher, I see this happen to students all the time.  Much more often than is really necessary really.  For some reason, there are those who feel the need to bring someone else down.  From the outside, the ones making the comments are looking for targets, trying to make others feel more miserable than they do.  They look for those who are weaker, those who have a chink in their armor, those who don't have friends to back them up.  Is this fair? Absolutely not.  For those who are attacked, it is torture.  They wake up everyday, and wonder what will be said to them today.  Will I make it out of the house without something being said to me?  Often the abuse starts at home, and then just continues on at school.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?  Words hurt.  Words hurt so much more than physical abuse because the damage can't be seen.  There is no blood, no scars.  The scars are inside.  On the heart.  In the mind. In the soul.  This type of abuse is so hard to overcome because we start to believe that we are ugly, stupid. We start to believe that we really are worthless and can't do anything.  It is so hard to build back up self esteem once it has been torn apart.

I think the reason I love being a middle school teacher is because I truly understand what these kids go through on a daily basis.  Middle school for me was hell.  I was the target of so many.  Why?  I haven't a clue.  I suppose I was one of the weak...easy prey.  It has taken a lot of work to build up my own self esteem and feel good about myself.  Am I perfect?  Heck no!  Can I accept my flaws?  Yep.  I love working with middle school kids because I can help those who need that boost of confidence.  I can tell on their faces when it is a bad day.  Middle school kids wear their hearts on their sleeves, and I am blessed to be able to help someone avoid years like I went through. 

The next time you speak to someone, think about the way the message may come across.  Is it said in love, or is it said to hurt and intimidate?  Watch for those who need to be built up, and make it your mission to encourage them. You may just help turn a person's day life around.

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