Having worked for several years in a private middle school and being assigned an Advisory every year of at least 12 students, made up of sixth through eighth grade students, we spent many of our meetings talking about the things we say to each other and the way we say it. We talked about how this can lead to bullying and we all know what serious consequences bullying can cause.
So, we tried to think of ways to encourage one another. I even assigned my advisees to keep a record of at least one encouraging word that they spoke to someone each day. At the end of each week at our usual meeting, I would check on their efforts to speak kindness instead of ridicule or criticism. I feel the students really benefited from making that extra effort. In fact, one young man who had previously earned the reputation as a “bullier” while in the sixth grade was on the verge of not being admitted into upper school due to his past infractions associated with his bullying.
Because I knew how much he had changed, I took his weekly sheets to the Headmaster and shared the effort he had made to get out from under his reputation. I, myself, had witnessed several of his actions, especially with the younger students, who like him, had had a rough time the first year in the middle school. And now, in the eighth grade, even with improvement that reputation still carried some stigma for him. Fortunately, the Headmaster understood and that young man went on to do very well in upper school and eventually was admitted to an Ivy League School.
So, what would your reputation be as an adult now, if a poll were taken? Have you managed to speak mostly encouraging words to others around you or do you consistently like to point out their mistakes and find fault an easy thing for you to do? One of the revelations that my group discovered was that there is a person in history called THE WORD. In the Bible, Jesus Christ is often called THE WORD. My students were amazed when they realized that if they modeled their words after THE WORD, how different the atmosphere around them would be.
Setting your sights on “high” and taking the “high road” can make a better place for all of us.