I strongly believe that as future educators, we must always be mindful of what we say and how we act. In a school setting, we are constantly being observed by students, administrators, colleagues, families and community members – what do you want their opinion of you to resemble? I feel as though the saying “actions speak louder than words” rings true here. Our body language is a huge indicator of how we are feeling, whether we realize this or not. So I ask, with thirty pairs of little eyes staring at us on a daily basis, do we really want to portray to them constant negativity?
That being said, I am finding it hard to ignore the amount of negativity present in our teacher education program. Individuals are passing judgement and discriminating others based on their passion to learn. I struggle with this concept, as I would never discredit the opinions of my peers. I view their personal narratives as learning experiences and appreciate the ways in which they encourage me to think critically. Discrediting someone on these terms just does not make sense to me. As educators we are taught the importance of collaboration, and creating a classroom environment where all students feel safe to share their thoughts and opinions. This is where it becomes difficult for me to understand – why are we not embracing and practicing these values in our university classrooms?
It sounds trivial or childish to preach “treat others how you want to be treated” to adult learners who are working towards becoming professionals, yet I do not think we are reminded of this enough. The negativity individuals are expressing overtly and inovertly cause tension in the room that could be cut with a knife. It does not just affect one person’s experience, it affects everyone’s opportunity to learn. As educators, we want to see our students be successful in their lives – would we judge them negatively based on who they are? No. So why are pre-service teachers doing this to each other? The lack of respect and honouring differences I am seeing daily really makes me question whether or not all of our future students will be given the inclusive learning experience they deserve.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou
This message is so important for future teachers – the way we treat others can affect them indefinitely. We need to make sure we do not spew words of hate, but rather words of love and encouragement. Individuals often internalize criticism or disrespect received from others. Those who are bullied may forgive the situation, but they will NEVER forget how the hurtful words used against them made them feel. We need to be the positive role models our students need us to be – admire those around you, be grateful to know each and every one of them, make life enjoyable for everyone – would we not want this for our students?
Becoming a leader does not occur at the moment you walk into your first classroom. It begins now, deep within yourself, by choosing to do the right thing