How our Words Affect Our Students

Today, I am taking part in the Sowing the Seeds of Success: Creating a Caring Classroom Webinar, which is going to be amazing. Preparing for my part got me thinking a lot about classroom culture and how much we, as teachers, influence it. How we interact with our students makes such a huge difference on so many levels.

Of course, you know all this, but now, at the start of the year, it can be a good idea to spend a few minutes reflecting on the huge impact you have on your students and your classroom:

How you talk to your students impacts how they feel about themselves
Many of us have stories of teachers that knocked us down and made us feel like we could not do anything right, and of those wonderful souls who built us up (I myself, will be forever grateful to Mrs. Klein). Teaching can be frustrating work, but it is important to remember that our words matter…a lot!
How you talk to your students impacts how they feel about each other
As we all know, children can be unkind to each other, often very unkind. A lot happens before and after school and at recess that we don’t see. A student who is struggling academically or behaviorally may very well also be struggling socially. Make sure that your words do not give his classmates any ammunition to fire at him.
How you talk to your students impacts how they feel about you
You spend more waking hours with your students than their parents do. Of course you want your students to feel positive about you and their relationships with you. How you treat them will form those feelings and opinions. Especially during those first weeks, students are watching you…learning what kind of a person you are and what they can expect in the future.
All of these factors come together to create an overall tone in your classroom. Do your students feel safe? Is  your classroom a happy place? Can they share what they are thinking and feeling? Are they willing to take academic risks? It all comes down to you.
One thing that helped me quite a bit in those frustrating moments were some small signs that I hung up all around our classroom…next to the pencil sharpener, on the door where the students lined up for recess, by the sink, and even on my own desk. They simply said: Be Kind. A good reminder for students, and good for teachers too.
For some reflection questions about your classroom culture, please see this post. I would love to hear about any thoughts you have on creating a positive and caring tone in your classroom. Please comment.
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