Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Mon 8/4/2003 4:20 AM
Random Thought: A Scary Realization

The beginning of the academic year is just a couple of weeks away. No depressing "yuks" for me, only rising "wows!" I just finished reading Daniel Goleman's PRIMAL LEADERSHIP and portions of Peter Senge's FIFTH DISCIPINE for the umpteenth time. They have accentuated the feelings I always get at this time of the year. As happens each year, while the juices are staring to flow and the excitement is starting to bubble, I come to a tempering, sobering, and scary realization: more than anyone else, I am the decisive element in the classroom. More than anyone else, I create the conditions that directly determine the student's ability to work well. I affect how students will feel and therefore perform. I am the authority figure, the classroom leader, the pacesetter, the role model, the weather maker. It is my personal attitudes and approaches, my assumptions and presumptions, my daily moods that create the climate in the classroom. Like it or not, conscious of it or not, actively or passively, as a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a student's life miserable or joyous.

I can be sour or sweet;
I can be pathelogical or theraputic;
I can torture or inspire;
I can care less or care;
I can manipulate or persuade;
I can dictate or persuade;
I can discourage or encourage;
I can obstruct or open the path;
I can diminish or elevate;
I can bore or excite;
I can creat disonance or harmony;
I can curse and condem or bless and edify;
I can be of diservice or serve;
I can grind down or lubricate;
I can be clueless or be clued in;
I can be disinterested or interested;
I can humor or be humorous;
I can be cold or empathize;
I can be deaf or listen;
I can be blind or see;
I can be distant or near;
I can disconnect or connect;
I can disrespect or respect;
I can disbelieve or believe;
I can create hopelessness or hopefulness;
I can humiliate or hold sacred;
I can sneer or cheer;
I can be unaware or aware;
I can insensitive or mindful;
I can hurt or heal;
I can ignore or notice;
I can beat down or be upbeat;
I can hiss or applaud;
I can create crisis or eliminate crisis;
I can heighten or diminish;
I can de-humanize or humanize;
I can devalue or value each student.

It is my choices that decides on which side of each "or" I stand. How well I manage my moods and attitudes affects students' moods and attitudes, and influences how well they each will perform. That is no small burden. It's both scary and humbling.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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