Friday, 5 December 2014

Your actions scream louder than the words you use

Last week I was reading a post called What our kids learn in school ( It got me thinking about education and teaching again.

We are teaching much more than we have written in our planning or have milling around in our own minds... what we do screams so loudly that it often drowns out what we say.

It is said that integrity is doing the right thing even when no-one is looking. In our schools and our communities our students/children are looking so integrity becomes vital. We are teaching even when we don't think we are.

Consider the following:

  • if we state that speaking kindly is important and then yell at a student or put them down 
  • if we state that we need to sit quietly and listen to others, then talk to a parent/colleague at an assembly when the students get 'the hairy eyeball' for chatting
  • if we state that when you do something wrong you need to apologise but refuse to admit when we make mistakes 
  • if we state that it is important to reconcile differences maturely and then backstab our colleagues or glare at them in public 
  • if we are teaching healthy habits and yet eat poorly 
... what are we teaching in those circumstances? 
  • That the rules don't apply to us
  • That when you are in a position of power the rules don't apply to you 
  • That our students are powerless 
  • That we are right and they are wrong 
  • That you don't trust people in authority, they lie 
Of course this isn't the way it is with every teacher, or parent, grandparent, caregiver, coach. In fact I'd like to believe most of us value our role as role models. Our students/children need to know they can rely on us to stand by our words, so that when we tell them we care about them and that they are valued they will believe that too. 

Here are some small examples from my own experience and I'd love to hear your examples too as I find our stories are powerful motivators and reminders : 

Not so long ago I apologised to a student for telling her off publicly when she said something very unkind to another student. She was flummoxed and stated that she couldn't understand why I was apologising to her when she was the one who had done something wrong. I explained that I was apologising for my behaviour because how I reacted was wrong and then we were able to talk about her behaviour. 

I do this at home too, I know sometimes when I am tired I can snap or react rather than respond, when I do I apologise (not as often to my husband as I should!). My four year old is quite adept now at letting me know when I have hurt his feelings and he is right to call me on it. It is OK to be human, none of us have to be perfect. 


  1. I agree that a teacher's role model is a critical component of education, especially today. Where do ethics, integrity, and social skills originate? Historically, those came from parents, grandparents, friends, and religion. There wasn't much competition for that role prior to movies and television. The role models played by actors were solid early in the genesis of these new technologies, but as religion decreased, freedom of speech increased, and the ease of improving ratings through sex, violence, and tomfoolery increased, the focus on improved ratings led to characters that had less-than-ideal standards. The movie ratings board was established because of this trend, but today it is the more restrictive ratings that attract the kids. Add to that the advent of video games, and kids now learn their morals from questionable sources. Crooks are honored, scoundrels are glorified, and everyone has a right to free love. Parents are not a student's role model after a certain age (younger now than ever). Teachers become the default role model (after actors) in today's society. The reduction of religion as a guiding force is perhaps the biggest component of this shift, but they have all played a role. IMHO. - Bob

    1. Thanks for the comment Bob, lots of food for thought. The range of role models our kids have is vast and sometimes i think as parents and teachers we might forget that we do have an influence too.