I want to give you a peace of mind. No, not a piece of mind! Words and their usage can be confusing. When you add-in tone, body language and biases, then it rises to a deeper level.
Language used in any setting influences those who are receiving the communication. They can recognize the power in the words from the tone, word choice, body language combined with the individual’s position.
Teachers in a class setting can influence the learners they serve in many ways: the actions, tones, and word choices. Students’ identities as learners are influenced by the power the learner gives to the teacher. Student demeanor, engagement, and outlook can change based on the language used by the teacher. There will always be exceptions and variables, but our responsibility is to set the standard high for communication to be at a level of positivity.
Knowing the responsibility, we have placed on the teaching staff to build relationships with students and families and focusing on the language of positivity. We as leaders need to do the same. How does our language help feed our staff with the fuel they need to feedback to their students as they work to feed up?
In my previous blogs I have talked about communication. Think about the last communication you had with staff? Was it a memo? An evaluation discussion? How about an email or text? What about that social media post?
I hope you are able to reflect and look at all of your forms of communication to see how others may feel, react, respond and react to your communications. Now think about communications you receive. Ask yourself the same questions. Language, words spoken, words heard, body and tone all play essential parts in our communication.
I am a firm believer in teaching vocabulary to students. Utilize positive talk for a supportive and encouraging climate. As an evaluator, it is essential to provide feedback vital to improvement. Feedback that feeds the moral, provides guidance and self-worth.
I am providing some links to additional articles from ASCD to continue your look at language. In addition, Larry Bell provided many years ago 12 powerful words students should know in order to understand questions on assessments. Vocabulary is essential for students. We will look at that topic more on a future blog.
My final piece is a poem by Charles Osgood. How many times have we responded to a question with “pretty good”? Words matter! Be careful not to settle for “pretty good.”
https://www.larry-bell.com 12 powerful words
Pretty Good by Charles Osgood
There once was a pretty good student
Who sat in a pretty good class
And was taught by a pretty good teacher
Who always let pretty good pass.
He wasn’t terrific at reading,
He wasn’t a whiz-bang at math,
But for him, education was leading
Straight down a pretty good path.
He didn’t find school too exciting,
But he wanted to do pretty well,
And he did have some trouble with writing
Since nobody taught him to spell.
When doing arithmetic problems,
Pretty good was regarded as fine.
5+5 needn’t always add up to be 10;
A pretty good answer was 9.
The pretty good class that he sat in
Was part of a pretty good school,
And the student was not an exception:
On the contrary, he was the rule.
The pretty good school that he went to
Was there in a pretty good town,
And nobody there seemed to notice
He could not tell a verb from a noun.
The pretty good student in fact was
Part of a pretty good mob.
And the first time he knew what he lacked was
When he looked for a pretty good job.
It was then, when he sought a position,
He discovered that life could be tough,
And he soon had a sneaking suspicion
Pretty good might not be good enough.
The pretty good town in our story
Was part of a pretty good state
Which had pretty good aspirations
And prayed for a pretty good fate.
There once was a pretty good nation
Pretty proud of the greatness it had,
Which learned much too late,
If you want to be great,
Pretty good is, in fact, pretty bad.