Although I refer to ‘teacher talk’, in truth these ideas can be applied to adults interacting with children in any situation.
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.
After a first draft of this post, I discovered this video that further demonstrates what I am trying to say. This is not just about teachers; this is about how adults talk to children. Please view: Every Opportunity. Watch the entire video to see the contrast. You’ll be glad you did.