…seemed disinterested in teaching.”
…used the classroom as a forum to vent her personal problems.”
…got angry and yelled over nothing and everything.”
…frowned all the time.”
…called children names like ‘slow’ and ‘lazy.’”
…seemed to hold me in disdain because I was poor.”
…would say, ‘I just don’t understand why you can’t get this. Why can’t you be more like your sister?’”
…intimidated me to the degree that I was afraid to ask a question.”
…had me do endless, boring math problems.”
…yelled out my name and said that my paper was the worst he had ever read!”
…held me by my shoulders and shook me.”
…made me wear a dunce cap because I got a problem wrong.”
…made me feel like I could not do anything right.”
…accused me of lying when I didn’t.”
Ideas that may serve to enhance positive memories in children:
Take a video or pictures of a various projects, special occasions, field trips and outdoor play. (Note: It may be necessary to get each parents’ written permission to include their child.) At the end of the year, ask the parents to send in a blank CD to receive a copy. Or, if you took pictures, combine a few prints in a Memory Book for each child. You may want to include a note describing the child’s greatest strength.
Since children tend to live up to positive comments from their peers, a teacher could lead the class in the following activity. Ask the students to name attributes that describe each other (see “Teacher Comments on Report Cards”). List them on the board, such as, “friendly,” “kind,” “fun to be with,” “shares his things,” “plays fair,” “good speller,” ”fast runner.” Then have the children write their name at the top of a piece of colored paper. Ask them to pass their paper to the left and have each child print a word or words that describe the named child. When all children have had a turn, you may want to collect them to screen for negative comments. In that case you could print up a list of the complimentary ones to share with each child. Otherwise, you can hand back the originals.
Administrators can encourage teachers to do their best by accentuating their specific strengths both verbally and in writing. Another idea is for administrators to ask the teachers of higher grades to have their students write a letter to a favorite, former teacher concerning their memories. Then privately distribute the letters.
Most children will not remember what a teacher taught as much as how he or she made them feel. Children who perceive themselves as accepted and valued will work harder and have positive feelings about their school experience (see “Helping Children Succeed”).
Used by permission of the author, Leah Davies, and selected from the Kelly Bear website [www.kellybear.com], 2/07.
Leah Davies received her Master's Degree from the Department of Counseling and Counseling Psychology, Auburn University. She has been dedicated to the well-being of children for 44 years as a certified teacher, counselor, prevention specialist, parent, and grandparent. Her professional experience includes teaching, counseling, consulting, instructing at Auburn University, and directing educational and prevention services at a mental health agency.
Besides the Kelly Bear materials, Leah has written articles that have appeared in The American School Counseling Association Counselor, The School Counselor, Elementary School Guidance and Counseling Journal, Early Childhood News, and National Head Start Association Journal. She has presented workshops at the following national professional meetings: American School Counselor Association; Association for Childhood Education International; National Association for the Education of Young Children; National Child Care Association; National Head Start Association; National School-Age Child Care Alliance Conference.