As language teachers, we know the impact words have. So I appreciated a recent thread in a facebook group that Bill Langley (@welangley) posted for how teachers can use better language to provide a more welcoming environment in their classroom. There were some great responses and these were my favorites:
I try to be careful when a student returns from an absence because I don’t want to pry into their life and try to confront them on why they were absent, that’s why I like Kayla K’s question of “We missed you. Is everything ok?”. This response shows the student that you knew they were not in class and allows them to answer at their own comfort level. She says students are more open to sharing.
Meredith White says she tries to replace the word “but”, especially when giving feedback by replacing it with “the next step is”. Molly M agrees that removing “but” makes a big difference since it usually discounts what you said. If you give a positive comment and follow it with “but” and something negative, students will focus on the negative. If you can focus on the feedback on what they can do to improve, it comes across better.
Bethanie and other teachers changed the question from the open ended “Any questions?” which students are generally not likely to respond to, to a more inviting “What questions do you have?”
Lastly, AnneMarie C. prefers to tell students to let her know when she is unclear rather than when they don’t understand. This why we are placing the fault on us for not being comprehensible enough rather than placing blame on students for not understanding.
What are some phrases that you have adapted or have changed in your classroom or are trying to eliminate? Let us know in the comments below.