As most of us are heading back into the school over the next few days, it is a perfect time to reflect and centre ourselves. Everything we do can potentially make a massive difference, and that is the privileged position we hold as teachers.
I'm thinking especially about the power of our words.
In every interaction we have, whatever our role, we have an impact on those around us. In the words we choose to use, we set the climate for everybody in the room. We have choice in the words we use in class, no matter how restrictive or liberating a curriculum we follow.
I remember teachers for the things they said, and the way they said them. I remember those who communicated to us how much they enjoyed teaching us; our Year 6 teacher could even tease us when we made amusing mistakes and turn it into a shared experience, without that feeling horrid. And I remember one who menacingly threatened to tear our arms off and bash us with the soggy end. She may have thought she was joking, but without a good relationship, it came across as unkind and a bit scary.
Whilst I am pleased to say I have never since met or encountered a teacher whose behaviour management technique is the threat of limb-removal, the lesson we can take from her gory diatribes is this: our words matter, and the way they are received matters.
As we encounter classrooms of new faces this week, imagine yourself as a pupil sitting in there too. How will you be the teacher you want to be, perhaps the one you needed as a student? How will you build a classroom that is relationally healthy, for all who are there?