Dangerous Branding

When I declared my elementary education major, I pestered my friends with questions about their schooling experience (even asking them to give me their favorite children’s book if they were going to give me a birthday present) because I was desperate to know what their teachers had done to create a lasting impact.

Personally, I am not unlike many other students in that there are teachers that I can remember almost every moment in their classes and other teachers that…well….I can’t even remember their names.

As teachers, we have the great privilege to walk through life with students. Of course there are days when I walk that path skipping happily and other days when I drag my feet. Like it or not, students look up to us and even the ones who give us a hard time regard our word as the final word.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of transferring the evaluation of a student’s work to the actual student saying that they are “off task” often or “distracted,” but these judgements are dangerous to a child’s development because they offer a stagnant, unchangeable label that they won’t forget.

Rather than helping students self brand and discover who they are, teachers dangerously brand students as successful or unsuccessful and cross the line trying to disguise their insecurities.