To build on the topic of self-advocating in the classroom, I thought this might be a good time to revisit the concept of The Power of Words.
What we say and how we say it greatly influences outcomes, relationships, and our own mental wellness. We can harness this power by being intentional and mindful about the words we choose. Being intentional with what we say and how we say it can promote confidence, happiness, and connection, all of which are key ingredients to learning and growing as human beings.
1. Script: Complement the student on doing what you want them to do even before they do it.
2. Notice: Catch them getting it right and tell them about it! For example, as you head out to recess, tell a student. “I really loved that you asked that question today in class.” “Thanks for speaking up in class today! I really like when you do that!”
3. Stack the Deck: Praise at a ratio of 10:1. Whether big or small, praise is powerful! Children crave positive affection and a sense of being loved. Praise is a powerful way to communicate you value and appreciate them.
4. Rewrite the Story: Change the narrative and the words to reflect what you want. When a student says, “Wait, what did you ask me to do?” Avoid saying, “Why weren’t you paying attention?” Instead say, “I like that you are checking back in.” or “Way to catch that you zoned out! I like that you are taking ownership of that!” or “Thanks for speaking up…there may have been other students who needed it repeated, too.” (of course, such statements may need to be said privately)
5. Speak the Alternative: Tell them what you want, not what you don’t want. Replace “Stop running” with “Walk next to me.” Replace “Stop talking” with “I am announcing your assignment, please listen.” Giving a student what to do, instead of what not to do increases compliance significantly. It also changes your own chemical and emotional state. For example, right now say “NO!” aloud. Notice how you feel. Now say “yes!” aloud. Notice how you feel. Your words not only impact others…your words affect your own mental state on the neurochemical level!
Give these a try! Pick one or two strategies to implement intentionally and consistently for one week. Hopefully, you will experience the magical power of words for not only nurturing your student’s mind but yours as well!
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