An Encouraging Word

In the few years I was a teacher I learned a lot of things. Perhaps the most important one of all was the glorious, life changing power of an encouraging word. I discovered it early while I was still in college completing my student teaching hours in a local middle school.

I had read the work Leo Buscaglia had done with his University of Southern California students. In one exercise Leo and his students had made two lists of words, one positive and one negative. Then they had thrown the negative words in the trash and tried to use only the positive words for one month. They were amazed at how much better their lives became just by using words full of kindness and encouragement.

I decided to try this as well by finding something good to write on each paper my students handed in. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. No matter how many errors a studentís paper contained there was always a funny sentence, beautiful thought, or great idea that I could comment on. I remember glancing over my desk and seeing some of the students rereading those encouraging words again and again. It was a joy seeing their eyes shine a little brighter, their backs sit up a little straighter, and their learning climb a lot higher.

I recently saw one of my former students from that class and we talked for a while. He was married, doing well in his job, and had two children of his own now. As I was saying goodbye he said, "You know I still have a few of those old papers from your class. I still look at them from time to time. I just hope my kids have as good a teacher as you." I walked off amazed at the effect those few positive words had on his life. I thanked God too for always giving me the words I needed as a teacher and as a writer. May your own life be forever full of encouraging words in your ears, from your lips, and in your heart.

~ Joseph J. Mazzella ~

[ by: Joseph J. Mazzella Copyright © 2010 ( -- submitted by: Joseph Mazzella ]

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