Ever since reading Playing for Keeps by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy, I’ve been thinking about the power words have in our relationships with children and students.
It is truly amazing what a few carefully-worded and well-timed statements can do to a life.
I know that is true in my life.
I know that it is true in the lives of the students I’ve taught and led over the years.
I recently got a Facebook message out of the blue from a former student thanking me for what I did for him when he was a struggling teen. It blew me away to be honest…because I really didn’t do much.
I didn’t spend too much time with him beyond class.
I didn’t pull him aside and give him some sort of pep talk.
I could only remember one significant moment to be honest.
Randomly, on a regular day, during the down time between classes I walked over to him and said something I don’t even remember totally.
But, I do remember how I started the conversation. I can’t forget because I remember how he reacted to my first few words.
I said…”Hey Will, I was thinking about you this morning and…blahblahblahblahblah”
Again…I don’t remember what the comment was about but I watched him “flinch” at those first few words.
They landed heavy and it surprised me. It surprised him. It was awkward and awesome.
But now, looking back on it, and reading this book…I think I get it.
“I was thinking about you this morning” communicates so much more than a way to start a conversation with a student.
You matter to me beyond the classroom
You think enough of me to “worry” about me
You think I’m worth something
I’m not just a student to you
I matter to you beyond this math class
You noticed me
All of that was pretty cool. I loved that those words mattered. The trick then , if we are going to reach the next generation, is using the powerful words on purpose. Here are a couple of starters from the books.
I remember when…
I have noticed…
I hope you know…
I’m really glad…
I’ve been thinking…
Mention them in conversations. Write them in little notes. Text them. Facebook them. USE THEM!
Words are powerful things.
As Reggie and Kristen point out…
“Maybe that’s why God gave us words. So that we can share them over time to communicate love, build each other up, and move us in a better direction.”