She provides many ways to support the development of these goals; however, the three that connect the most with this week’s staff meeting are to be direct and genuine; mean what you say; and use statements rather than questions.
Be Direct and Genuine
Denton states that when trying to get several students to listen to a direction, many of us use the phrase, “I like the way Sam is sitting quietly”; however, statements like these have inherent problems of extrinsic motivation and often do not produce the desired effects. The first problem is that students should not sit down on the rug so they gain praise from the teacher, but should sit down because it’s a time to learn and because they recognise their place in the learning environment. The second problem is that this language actually is “trying to manipulate the the other children to do what [the teacher] wanted without [the children] being conscious of [the teacher’s] control over them (Denton, 15).” In reality, many kids would rather carry on with their discussions than worry about sitting properly so the teacher would praise them. Instead of using this language, gain the attention of the entire class using a common signal and then state something like, “Come to the circle and take a seat now.”
Mean What We Say: Following Through on Our Words
We have to follow through on our expectations. If we expect students to be silent in the hallways, then we cannot permit any talking. If we expect quiet voices, we have to hold them to this expectation. Say only what you can and are willing to follow through on.
10 Rhetorical Questions to Stop Using in the Classroom by Blair Turner
This past week, through the wonders of social media, 10 Rhetorical Questions to Stop Using in the Classroom & 10 More Effective Alternatives by Blair Turner came to my attention. This humorously written article provides many alternatives to the questions we often use with our students after a student has been rude, mean or bullying.
As you read through her list of ten questions teachers should never say, think about how many you might have said (I have said many):
Head to her blog to read about the alternatives. To read more about positive teacher language, here are some other articles and blog postings from The Responsive Classroom website: