Every teacher knows our classroom environments are meant to be places of learning and support. After all, both you and your students should feel safe and nurtured in this space. Teachers also know the lasting power of words. Ultimately, creating better learning includes teachers using the spoken word to support and nurture their students. A perfect choice of words at the perfect time can create powerfully positive lessons and a lasting impression that one day changes a student’s life.
Here is a list of things that you can use anytime in the quest to create better learning, complete with their true meanings. You’ll know when you need to use them—because you’re awesome.
1. “Does this make sense?”
Translation: It’s important that you can understand what we’re talking about, so I’m going to spend as much time as I need to make sure we’re on the same page.
2. “I like the way you did that.”
Translation: You’re trying/making progress/helping others/showing initiative/setting an example/getting it better than I had hoped. Whatever you’re doing, keep it up!
3. “I’m excited to see what you come up with.”
Translation: There is greatness in all of you, and I’m looking forward to all the unique and creative ways you bring it out.
4. “I’m not exactly sure how to do this.”
Translation: I’m also a learner, and even if I’m not completely familiar with this I can still model the learning process.
5. “It’s okay to make mistakes.”
Translation: Failure doesn’t define you. This is common knowledge, but it never hurts for you to hear it.
6. “Let’s have some fun with this.”
Translation: Classrooms are places of adventure. Let’s dive in together and get messy!
7. “What do you think about — ?”
Translation: You’re a strong independent thinker. Your opinion matters, and your voice deserves to be heard. Use it well.
8. “You’re making good progress!”
Translation: I’m seeing really solid effort, so keep the trend going.
9. “I’m here if you need me.”
Translation: I care about you and your future. You’re safe and I’m here to help you.
10. “What’s another way to approach this?”
Translation: There’s always another way. If you aren’t seeing results, try something different.
11. “I believe you can do this.”
Translation: You decide your future and your potential to achieve it. I can guide and support you, but you’ve got to take the lead.
12. “How does — make you feel?”
Translation: Having self-awareness is important. Knowing it’s your right and there’s no shame in it? Even more so.
13. “We can figure this out.”
Translation: I’m not giving up on you ever, for any reason.
14. “What can I do better?
Translation: I’m not perfect, but our relationship matters to me. Let’s work on it together.
All of these things you’ve just read are some of the most important things we can say to our students. In our learning environments we assemble for the noble purpose of creating better learning. To enable, to guide, to achieve, to aspire—these are the reasons classrooms were built.
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