Teacher Talk: Words With Weight

Note:  I have no photos in this post.  This is because I am hopeful you will actually read the words here.  Please read as this does not just apply to teachers; this applies to every relationship.  Teachers are in the business of building relationships.  That’s where the real learning begins. 

Reflecting on Teacher Talk and How to Make Our Words Carry More Weight

Sometimes I hear the catch phrase “Good job!” and it makes me think.  What does that really mean?  How will a child feel if constantly told “good job!”.  I will admit, I’ve heard myself saying it too.  That’s when I give my head a shake! Have I forgotten how clever children really are?  Repeated phrases can begin to sound disingenuous after awhile.  Maybe the problem with “good job” is that it is too automatic, coming from a distracted disengaged place.  Maybe it is too easy to say.

So what kind of teacher talk really matters?

It is the kind of talk that really seeks to understand. It is the kind of talk that comes from a place of mindfulness, from a place that really values the individual child. It happens with one child at a time, one conversation at a time, one relationship at a time.

I encourage you to watch this TED talk Every Kid Needs a Champion by Rita Pierson.  Teachers need to care.  Teachers need to invest in children.  Teachers need to stay positive.  And for me, genuine caring means teachers need to avoid empty words and catch phrases that are easy to say.  Teachers need to listen, seek to understand and ask thought provoking questions. Teachers need to build relationships with each and every child.

So, here are my teacher goals for 2017:  Be mindful of teacher talk.  Work on individual relationships with each child.  Listen. Seek to understand.  Become their champion. Provide thoughtful responses.  Celebrate learning together.

Afterwards: I wrote my first draft of this post just a few days ago.  There must be something in the water because I later discovered this link in my Facebook feed (thank you, Diane Cameron!) This video shows exactly what I’m talking about.  The difference between meaningful one to one interactions and automatic, distracted impersonal interactions.  Please watch! Reconsider the way you speak to children.

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13 thoughts on “Teacher Talk: Words With Weight

  1. Perhaps we could also refrain from praising children for working HARD? It leaves the impression that those things that come easily are not as valuable. Perhaps appreciating their creations and accomplishments is sufficient? Happy new year, Cindy! 😉 xoM

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  2. Great post, Cindy. The messages that we send children, our own, those we teach, or any with whom we interact, are very powerful. I have previously watched both the videos you linked to. They are powerful and definitely worth sharing. I shared another on the same topic by Isreali teacher Chen Miller on my readilearn blog this week.
    Thank you for the reminder. It can’t happen too often.

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    1. That’s interesting we are blogging about the same subject but then it is the foundation of being an effective teacher. I am reminding myself through this post too as it is easy to get distracted by other ideas and forget the basics that are so essential. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  3. It is a must read post for every Indian parent as most of them do not believe in the uniqueness of each child and go with the generalisations.It is really essential to build a relationship at the personal level.It is great and appreciaiable that you try to understand each child’s psychology.

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    1. Thank you. I do feel that each individual deserves to be understood. That is the challenge for me as a teacher… to make time for each child and to listen carefully with sincere appreciation of their unique gifts.

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