I recently received some encouragement from a friend of mine about my blog. Her comments were simple… that she enjoyed reading my posts, that they made her want to teach, and that she thought I was really doing an excellent job. It was her next words that struck me… she said, “I just had to tell you”.
I’d been feeling a little uninspired about my blog, and my friend’s encouraging words, plus the fact that she “just had to tell me” gave my heart such a lift! Not only was my friend enjoying my efforts, but she felt compelled to tell me about it and actually acted on it. Needless to say, her thoughtful words motivated me.
This is an important lesson for us as teachers — not to mention as human beings — but as teachers most especially. We have the power EVERY DAY in our classrooms to lift our students up with meaningful, authentic words of encouragement. Perhaps more than any curriculum we teach, the ability to encourage our students is a gift that should not be overlooked. Our words may be just the thing to help a struggling student have the courage to try something — once again — that has been challenging for them in the past.
In the realm of art education, the idea of encouragement is especially profound. Since art is an area of the curriculum where expressions are highly personal, making oneself vulnerable can be very scary to say the least. Supportive encouragement given throughout the artistic process can provide a safe place for creative thinking and exploration. (Which is not to say “anything goes”, or minimal effort is acceptable, but when an honest effort is being made, it should be recognized regardless of whether or not the final outcome is “successful”.)
So I leave you with the challenge to look for simple, meaningful ways you can frequently share the gift of encouragement with your students. I also wish to thank my dear friend for her gift of encouraging words to me. :-)