3 Things I will STOP Saying to my Students in the New Year to Create a more Positive and Productive Classroom

As the new year approaches, I like to think of ways that I can improve my classroom life as well as my personal life. While being reflective and thinking about what is working and what is not, I couldn't help but think about the classroom environment and culture I have built this year.

 When trying to think of small and simple but hopefully impactful things that I can change, I began to think about the words I say and how I respond to students' problems. There were few very commonly used phrases that popped into my head that might not be the best at showing my students respect and making them feel as though their voices are being heard. 

These are 3 simple phrases that I have decided to (try and) ban from my teacher vocabulary in the new year.

"We are all going to the same place"

Have you ever been walk to a line at the grocery store and have someone  speed walk to cut in front of you right before you were entering the checkout lane? 

Have you ever been waiting in a long line in traffic when someone decides to cut over in front of you at the last minute?

Have you ever been waiting for a parking space in a crowded parking lot just to have another car dart into the spot before you can?

As an adult, I find all of these situations extremely annoying and frustrating. Sure I'll still be able to check out, get to my destination, or park somewhere else but it is irritating none the less.

Just think about how cutting in line is your students equivalent to those situations. Sure in the grand scheme of things what position you are standing in line doesn't matter but if it is frustrating to you as an adult, it is equally as frustrating to your students!


Let me preface this by saying that I do believe sharing is a VERY important skill that everyone needs to learn. Unfortunately, to most young children, the word share means you give me what I want when I want it. If Johnny just picked up the green marker at the table and started using it but Susie wants it too, she expects him to hand it over immediately or chances are you as the teacher are going to hear all about how he is not "sharing". Now on the flip side, if Johnny has had the green marker for 20 minutes and nobody else has gotten to use it, that is a different story! The problem is, I have noticed that most of my students really don't see the difference. 

I plan to be more mindful about taking just a little time to teach students how to share and take turns. We are expected to teach so much each day that there is little to no time for teaching social skills. The biggest issue I have with that is that the lack of social skills leads to many more interruptions and distractions throughout the day which takes away from the time students have to learn. 

Hopefully giving students some of the skills they need will alleviate at least a few of these issues. (A girl can dream right?) Which actually leads me to the last phrase I am going to attempt to change this year...

"You need to be a problem solver"

Okay, this is another skill that admittedly our students need to learn but, what does "being a problem solver" even mean? Chances are when I say that to my students, they probably have no idea what that looks like or what exactly I am expecting them to do and just leave feeling like they haven't been heard. Or (even worse), decide to solve the problem by throwing a tantrum to get what they want, hitting another student, or some other undesired behavior. This is why it is important to explicitly teach students strategies to solve their problems, work with them, and model, model, MODEL until they can take the initiative and do it independently.

One great place to get started is showing students how to use their words and express what they are feeling. If you are experiencing a similar problem with your students, you can read about some great strategies, in this article I found: Coaching Students in Handling Everyday Conflicts.

Here is to hoping that implementing these few simple changes will lead to a happy, more positive 2019 in my classroom for myself and my students. 

I hope that you all have a wonderful 2019 with your students! Are there any other common phrases that you can think of? Do you have any classroom goals set of things you would like to do differently in the new year? I would love to hear about them in the comments! 

No comments

Back to Top