The way you talk to your class is extremely important for the success of you as a teacher and your students. As young children they remember more about their surroundings; what was said or done by whom and in what way. Their environment is influential on their behaviour, attitude and development. The Graduate Recruitment Bureau suggest saying these five things to your class every day to make sure you give them the best education possible; not just academically but socially and developmentally too.
1.Good morning/ Goodbye
These are probably standard and probably automatic phrases that you greet and leave your class with but it is important that you use salutations and bid them farewell. Not only does it establish routine for them which is crucial for their development of time keeping and organisation, but it reinforces the positive mood in which the day should start and end. ‘Good morning’ infers that it is a ‘good’ morning and that the day is going to be successful, happy and productive. The positive adjective will enter the sponge like infant brain and nestle in their subconscious throughout the day, creating waves of optimism. Similarly, dismissing your class with ‘goodbye’ or ‘have a lovely evening’ has the same effect, so their sunny attitude can continue outside of the classroom. Equally, it is beneficial to add a summarising sentence of the day when it comes to home time. This doesn’t always have to be a praising, positive sentence as not every day will be a good one and it is important that you are truthful with your class. If they have been particularly rowdy don’t continue to scold them as they walk out the door. After the initial telling-off use the summary sentence to be constructively critical; ‘You’ve been a bit on the loud side today which means tomorrow we can all try to be a little quieter.’ Then, the next morning remind them again that today’s ‘fun’ challenge is being quieter than yesterday to reinforce the message of the importance of the learning environment.
2. Do you understand?
It’s a given that not all children in your class will understand the task as quickly as others. As the teacher it is important to monitor and notice if someone is falling behind and do something about it. Before you let the students tackle the class ask them ‘Do you understand?’ The chances are they will all nod and hurry off to their desks even if they don’t understand. Therefore, once they have begun individual study it is important to go round the tables and check that all of the students know how to do the task and that no one is sitting there pretending to work, too embarrassed to ask for help. Students will raise their hands and ask questions but you never know who might be silently struggling. As you make your rounds ask individuals, ‘What do you think of question 1?’ ‘How are you going to tackle it?’ ‘Is there anything you want me to go over again?’ Asking open questions like these offers students the chance to ask for help without directly admitting confusion. If the way they plan to tackle the problem is completely wrong then you know you need to go over it with them. Say ‘an easier approach might be…’ rather than ‘that’s wrong’ to make them feel less embarrassed. Emphasise that it is ok to not understand. At the end of the lesson make a list of things you need to revisit next time to make sure that no student gets ‘left behind’.
3.What do you think about this?
Getting student feedback on your lessons is a useful tool to deliver beneficial sessions to your class. Children learn best when they are enjoying themselves. Boredom and tedious repetition are detrimental to absorbing information. Routine and structure are important, but the tasks can be varied to add excitement. Children need to be enthusiastic about school and learning which is achieved by getting their first hand opinions on their experiences so far. It will come as no surprise that a few will always instantly label their maths lesson as ‘boring’ or history as ‘no fun’. As a teacher you need to be able to sift through the not so thoughtful responses to find the positive and constructive criticism. These are the comments to take on board and apply to your next lesson plans. Students might have really enjoyed the group work but disliked another aspect of the lesson, such as peer marking. Look at what sections of the lesson got the most productive output from the students as well as their comments to fully assess the success of the lesson.
4.Why is this important?
Students won’t make the effort to learn things that they think are irrelevant or unbeneficial to them.When you are young it is hard to see why you need to know about certain aspects of the curriculum; fractions for example- surely a calculator can do that for me? Explain to them how to do the task and also why it is important that you learn how to do it. This additional information about their education will help develop a healthy attitude to learning, make them realise it is important and therefore keen to participate in class. To ensure they understand ask them why they think this lesson is important. Allowing them to explain to themselves and their peers why they need to learn something will offer a different perspective on the issue and reinforce the concepts in their minds. As well as emphasising the importance of the lesson you need to make the point that it is alright if they do not understand it at first. You don’t want to put pressure on them to learn something straight away as they may get stressed if they don’t pick it up quickly but think they have to in order to be successful.
5.You’ve done so well; I’m proud of you
Positive feedback is crucial in the classroom. For children, getting praise from a teacher is almost as exciting as hearing the ice cream van driving down your street. Make sure you always encourage your students to perform to the best of their ability and when they reach a target or try extra hard on a task show your appreciation to them. Phrases like ‘well done’, ‘you’ve done brilliantly’ and ‘I’m proud of you’ boost your students’ self-esteem, giving them the confidence to answer questions, tackle harder tasks and think outside the box. Praise also acts as an incentive for them to try hard and finish their work. If everyone else in the class is getting compliments on the lesson and you aren’t then it makes you want to be part of the glorification too, meaning you’ll behave better in the next session. Showing your students they have done well and expressing emotions such as pride and happiness makes for a positive and productive learning environment that all students will want to be a part of.
Incorporating these five little phrases into your daily classroom routine will benefit your students and your performance as a teacher.
Written by Anna Pitts for The Busy Teacher