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Dearest Student

Chaiky Berger

You are not the total of one moment. My image of you is the total of all the moments in which I see you

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

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D earest Student, I know you got the answer wrong. I see your face go crimson and your eyes downcast. You are disappointed.

And you’re sure I’m disappointed in you as well.

But you are not the total of one moment. My image of you is the total of all the moments in which I see you. Many interactions, scribbles, facial expressions, smiles, and questions give me my image of you.

I’m thinking about the students who do well and succeed in school, and what it is that makes them succeed. But how can I explain it to you now? We are in the middle of Navi class, and I’m not sure we can bring this topic up. I don’t know how the class will take my words because, as a teacher, I know things need to be given over in the right context and with the right balance. And so I choose not to tell you anything about what’s going through my head.

But then I see you’re looking even more down. You’re losing confidence in yourself, in your ability to think, to question, and to answer. You’re forgetting about the many times you did get the answer right! Why? I wish I could help you change, because I really do care. I care for your success and I care for you.

I see your potential — small seeds waiting to sprout. They need to be watered by your confidence and positive self-image. Don’t let the darkness of a single bad memory nurture you, because it will just kill the seeds.

I try to teach the class about positive attitude, self-image, and self-belief. You think I’m just giving another mussar schmooze, and that I’m not talking to you. I am talking to you. Not to her and her! Yes. I mean you!


Many of your classmates have healthy self-images and I believe that’s the basis of their success. Your self-image is controlled by your decision to remember only the answer you got wrong. That is unfair to all the positive memories you’ve swept under 1,000 carpets. Your decision to remember the bad moment is shaping your future.

And I am thinking of the you that can be nourished if you just water your seeds with confidence. Try to answer the questions and read the examples even though you aren’t perfectly positive you’ll get them correct. You aren’t the definition of the “wrong” moments. If you mispronounce a word, misspell a word, ask a silly question, it’s fine. I won’t remember those moments. Your classmates won’t remember. But we may if you keep reminding us by keeping quiet.

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