Scroll Top

What weather do you choose?

Just one little word – that’s all it takes to create the weather.

It can be cruel or kind, judgmental or understanding, appreciative or dismissive. But that one little word can make such a difference to the atmosphere or theme of a conversation.

I’m reminded of a quote by Haim Ginott, an educator, child psychologist and psychotherapist who was quite ahead of his time in the 50s and 60s. He was a resident psychologist on the NBC’s Today Show and he said things like, ‘treat a child like a guest’, ‘never deny or ignore a child’s feelings’, ‘refrain from using words that you would not want a child to repeat,’ and ‘if you want a child to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.’

Regardless of whether we are working in a classroom, standing at the footy oval or walking down the footpath, we can all create an atmosphere where children are respected, valued and truly know they are important. As Haim would say, we ‘make the weather’.

And, if we make weather that makes a child feel safe, heard, understood and confident, we are going to get a little person who wants to please us, wants to learn, wants to live up to our expectations. Someone who wants to excel and achieve. We also get a great future citizen.

And you know what? This also works for the big people, the adults, in our lives, and not just in the classroom.

So how do we make this weather, you may ask?

Well, simply put, just be a decent human being. Thank and congratulate the things you like to see – these things will grow and continue. Say please and thank you for everything, even the little things. Be grateful, say you appreciate someone or something and they’ll do it more regularly. Be sorry if you made a mistake and admit it, fix it, redo it. Forgive and understand when others make a mistake; they are human too. Use words, tone and humour as you would like them used on you. Do it loud, do it proud, do it often. It makes people feel good, respected and acknowledged.

The most important time for making the weather is when the person we are looking at is in a storm of their own, a limbic state or a state of dysregulation. We can change the forecast with just our words.

And for that famous quote by Haim

I have come to a frightening conclusion.

I am the decisive element in the classroom.

It is my personal approach that creates the climate.

It is my daily mood that makes the weather.

As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.

I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.

I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal.

In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis

will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized.

As humans, we all have the power to make the weather. What weather do you choose?

Check out other articles Candice has written here.