Teachers' Comments about Students
...harmless or lifelong impact?

Everyone most likely remembers one or two comments their teachers made about them in school as children. What they may not understand is how these comments stayed with them, and affected different facets of their lives as they entered adulthood.

Remarks made by teachers can have residual effects on them that last longer than what their parents say about them. This can happens because more often than not, children believe their teachers are more intelligent than their parents are.

The old adage, "You can catch more bees with honey", does not apply when talking about the positive versus negative comments teachers make about their students. Probably without realizing it, teachers do more damage than they know to a child's self-esteem, and to their ability to learn. Teachers believe their negative remarks will help children become better students, but that is rarely the case.

Elementary school reunions have gained popularity in recent years. In elementary school, students attended classes with the same children for nine years, including Kindergarten. Therefore, at these reunions, people not only remember the same teachers, they also recall and compare things their teachers said about them. More attendees at these reunions recollect negative comments than the positive ones.

For example, many teachers may not admit it, but people at one such reunion, remembered their teachers favoring one or more students over the others, for every year they attended school. They used to call them the 'teacher's pet' years ago. These students were normally those who did well in school, had excellent behavior, and participated on a regular basis in the classroom. They were not necessarily the smartest children, however.

The people gathered at the reunion noticed that the 'teachers' pets' fared well in life, had a successful career and many friends. That thought this was especially true if more than one teacher through their grade school years favored the same students. They compared the teachers' favorites to those at the reunion teachers labeled, "mischievous", "lazy", and the crucial tag, "disruptive", year after year.

They felt they went through life carrying those labels, having trouble in their professional and personal lives. They figured they stayed in dead-end jobs because they did not believe they were ambitious enough to do better. They believed that when something went their way, it would not last, so they frequently ended it first.

There was one man who attended his fortieth elementary school reunion that others remembered as being friendly, handsome, and had the ability to make them other students laugh. This man claimed that although he tried his best in school, he felt stupid compared to others. He recalled his fourth grade teacher telling him that he would never do well in school if he kept trying to be popular by being the class clown.

Being clever and able to make people laugh is part of a child's personality. It is not easy to change, especially if the other children enjoy it. When a teacher says something it in that way to a student, the child will not hear, or understand the second part of that statement, and will believe they will 'never do well in school'.

A number of women at the reunion believed that the reason they refuse to hem a skirt or sew a button on to this day, is because their Home Economics teacher criticized their sewing projects.

Still others claimed that because the same teacher laughed at them when they burned pancakes or undercooked eggs, preparing meals is their least of their favorite household chores.

One mother at the reunion recalled how a teacher berated her for unintentionally tearing her paper during an art lesson. The teacher proceeded to shriek at her in front of the entire class, about how much the school spent on supplies. She did say, however, that her revenge on that teacher was having a child now, who is a gifted artist.

Out of these people, there was one woman with a fond remembrance of a statement a teacher made to her. She remembered that a teacher said that she would make a great English teacher some day. She claims that is the reason she has always loved words, and has always enjoyed writing. Sadly, she also remembered it as the first time a teacher had anything nice to say about her, and that that she went through nine years of school before that isolated incident occurred.

That same woman brought an autograph book with her that she received that same year. She showed the remarks made by her Home Economics teacher that she still talks about, with anger, today. The teacher gave her two 'C's' on her last report card, which denied her placement on the honor roll for the first time. Then, to add insult to injury, wrote the following statement in her autograph book, "it is too bad those marks kept you off the honor roll. I hope you do better next year".

If your children come to you and tell you a teacher criticized something they did, be sure to let them know that it is okay if they do not excel at everything they attempt. Let them know they do many other things well, and not to dwell on one the thing a teacher says they do not.

If you do this, your children will accept what the teachers say about them, coupled with what you tell them, and they will learn from the experience. They will move on from the experience instead of it becoming an obstacle for them. They will look forward to their class reunions, and will always wonder how it could be that teachers were so wrong about them.

In conclusion, if you as a parent see negative comments from a teacher about your children, turn them around with a positive spin. Tell your children that you know them better than their teachers do, and explain that the comments do not reflect who they are.

This will certainly have a positive effect on your children's' lives that they will carry with them always.

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