You all know that I love the Responsive Classroom philosophy and embracing this philosophy at East Side has transformed our school due to the belief that the social and emotional curriculum is just as important as the academic. Responsive Classroom has a plethora of resources such as topics on Bullying, Academic Choice, Building Parent Relationships, you name it.
One of the areas that we touched upon a few years ago was Teacher Language. We used the Power of Our Words as a study book to work on how we are talking to our students as well as what we say to each other as adults. It’s a very powerful book and if you need a copy, I have extras. The RC website even has wonderful blogs about overusing the phrases, “I notice..” and “I see..” here.
One of the areas we as adults need to be careful with is what we are saying and how we are saying things to our students. “Wow! You’re a genius” and “You can do better than that” may seem like words of encouragement, but is it possible that these expressions could decrease student motivation or hinder student learning? Are our students taking it the wrong way?
What we say as teachers in the classroom may not be what your students hear. The message we intend to send our students may be distorted by the words we choose to use. Certain types of language that teachers use to talk to, and about students, can reduce learning and create a state of classroom disharmony.
In this time of change, and boy do we have lots of it, I am asking you to stop, and think before you say what is on your mind to your students. We are all frustrated by change, and lots of it, some good, some not so, but we also have to have an awareness of what is said and how we say it to our students. There is no room for sarcasm as you all know. As Paula Denton, the author of Power of Our Words wrote:
Sarcasm, another form of indirect language, is also common in the classroom. “John, what part of ‘Put your phone away’ don’t you understand?” a teacher asks. The students laugh, and the teacher thinks she has shown that she has a sense of humor. But she has embarrassed John and diminished his trust in her. And even though the other students laughed, they too might feel less trusting of the teacher, no longer seeing her as a protector but as someone who has the potential to use words in a hurtful way. It would be more effective for the teacher to directly state, “John, put your phone away.” If he doesn’t respond, then it’s time to try another strategy, such as the use of logical consequences.
Make sure you are putting in the 3 R’s for Teacher Language: Reinforcing, Reminding and Redirecting. Some of you put these phrases on your back wall to help remind you what to say. Read the resources from the RC pages here, here and here.
My fear, as we continue to focus so much of our time on to the common core, is losing the social and emotional areas we worked on so hard as a building and as a community. As a leader of this building, this is NOT what I want to lose. We have to continue to focus on the social and emotional curriculum as well. Please do not give that up and continue to be the best of the best! Have a great week!
This short video quickly explains one way to organize the classroom in workstations.
Americans with less education are sicker and live shorter lives. This report provides the details, including the finding that this is particularly true for white women.
The latest Responsive Classroom newsletter includes articles about increasing reading stamina, teachers’ choice of words, and decreased disciplinary referrals.
This article from Forbes takes a different perspective about international test scores — that the US is actually doing better than those other countries.
This diagram shows the relationship between CCLS math, CCLS ELA/Literacy, and the Next Generation Science Standards. It’s a quick way to see the associations.
This guide from NYSUT and NYSPTA about the Common Core for parents might be helpful.