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Back to School – The Dilemma

August 3, 2012

It is now August. For those of you teaching in traditional schools, you are inevitably thinking about the new school year. Even if you are trying to avoid it, the Back to School sale ads on television and in the paper must have attracted your attention. I love school. I tell those who will listen that except for those first six years, I have by choice been in school all of my life. I will return to the classroom next week.

For my last summer blog post I would like to share one of my favorite quotes. A colleague shared this with me several years ago, but it still the guiding principle for my classroom and my professional practice. I use it as I plan and as I reflect.

The Dilemma
I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that will create the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a student’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a student humanized or de-humanized.
Haim Ginott

Haim G. Ginott (1922-1973) was a clinical psychologist, child therapist, parent educator, and author whose work has had a substantial impact on the way adults relate to children. He began his career as an elementary school teacher in Israel in 1947 before immigrating to the United States. There he attended Columbia University in New York City, earning a doctoral degree in clinical psychology in 1952.

Teaching Tolerance used this quote for its One World classroom poster Fall 2011. You can download a free copy at Teaching Tolerance.

You have tremendous power. Use it wisely.

Linda C.

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