Be careful, then, when you first see your pupils, that you meet them with a smile. I do not mean a pretended cordiality, which has no existence in the heart, but think of the relation which you are to sustain to them, and think of the very interesting circumstances under which, for some months at least, your destinies are to be united to theirs, until you can not help feeling a strong interest in them. Shut your eyes for a day or two to their faults, if possible, and take an interest in all their pleasures and pursuits, that the first attitude in which you exhibit yourself before them may be one which shall allure, not repel.
2. In endeavoring to correct the faults of your pupils, do not, as many teachers do, seize only upon those particular cases of transgression which may happen to come under your notice. These individual instances are very few, probably, compared with the whole number of faults against which you ought to exert an influence. And though you perhaps ought not to neglect those which may accidentally come under your notice, yet the observing and punishing such cases is a very small part of your duty.
You accidentally hear, I will suppose, as you are walking home from school, two of your boys in earnest conversation, and one of them uses profane language. Now the course to be pursued in such a case is, most evidently, not to call the boy to you the next day and punish him, and there let the matter rest. This would, perhaps, be better than nothing. But the chief impression which it would make upon the individual and upon the other scholars would be, “I must take care how I let the master hear me use such language again.” A wise teacher, who takes enlarged and extended views of his duty in regard to the moral progress of his pupils, would act very differently. He would look at the whole subject. “Does this fault,” he would say to himself, “prevail among my pupils? If so, how extensively? It is comparatively of little consequence to punish the particular transgression. The great point is to devise some plan to reach the whole evil, and to correct it if possible.”
In one case where such a circumstance occurred, the teacher managed it most successfully in the following manner.
He said nothing to the boy, and, in fact, the boy did not know that he was overheard. He allowed a day or two to elapse, so that the conversation might be forgotten, and then took an opportunity one day, after school, when all things had gone on pleasantly, and the school was about to be closed, to bring forward the whole subject. He told the boys that he had something to say to them after they had laid by their books and were ready to go home. The desks were soon closed, and every face in the room was turned toward the master with a look of fixed attention. It was almost evening. The sun had gone down. The boys’ labors were over. Their duties for the day were over; their minds were at rest, and every thing was favorable for making a deep and permanent impression.