Don’t Talk to a Student While Screaming
Screaming is NOT an effective means of communication. It isn’t. When you scream or yell at a student you are letting them know you are no longer in control of the situation. You gave away all of your authority by raising your voice.
If you are anything like me, screaming leads to your voice cracking, and that is not endearing or authoritative in any way. Don’t do it.
Instead, drop your voice when talking to a student. By lowering your voice either by an octave or in level students have to work to hear you. Their brains automatically switch into listening mode, and you get a little piece of their attention.
The strategy of lowering your voice works with multiple age levels and allows you to remain calm, at least on the outside.
One possible caveat to not screaming or yelling is when safety is concerned. If little Johnny is about to do something dangerous, by all means, bellow out a quick and sharp warning.
Don’t Talk to a Student With Sarcasm
Sarcasm has no place in the classroom, plain and simple. This leads to misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and general disaster.
The temptation to break out a little sarcastic humor when talking to a student to try and lighten a situation or respond to a student’s choices is always there but resist at all costs.
Instead of using sarcasm when moments get tense lean on I statements. They center the emotion around you and how a student’s choices can change the trajectory of the classroom.
When a student uses sarcasm with you, it is not an open invitation to respond with sarcasm. Again, you are the adult and should lead by example. Sarcastic conversations with students can take ugly turns at the drop of a hat and are not worth it.
Don’t Talk to a Student Under Your Breath
Anything you are willing to say about or to a student should be something you are willing to say in front of them, their parents, and your administration. Easy.
Under your breath remarks are not helpful, but instead, work against you. At least one student is bound to hear your comment, at least in part, and then the game of telephone begins. Your remark, however tame will likely become much more.
When you are feeling upset, riled up, or frustrated hold in those under the breath remarks. While they may be bubbling up inside you, there is no need to spread them through the classroom.
Instead write your thoughts down, with a quick scribble, to revisit later. By doing this you are able to collect yourself and respond in a more appropriate manner.
Don’t Talk to a Student with Taunting Phrases
I would like to say I have never taunted a student, but that wouldn’t be true. I don’t think I thought of it as taunting at the time, but in hindsight it was.
When you tell a student, especially in front of their peers, they are missing out on something it is taunting. Some view this as peer pressure, but I would beg to differ.
Telling a student you wish you were able to give them a reward for completing their homework when they didn’t–that’s taunting.
Pointing out to a student they are the only one who hasn’t turned in a permission slip in front of the class–that’s taunting.
Often we forget most of these actions are out of the control of our students. They cannot help their parent got home after their bedtime and wasn’t able to help them or sign a form. This should not be used against them.
Instead, take the time to have private conversations with your students. Ask them if they need another permission slip or help with their homework. This gets to the root of the problem without taunting and shaming.
When speaking to students:
- If you feel yourself getting ready to yell, drop your voice instead.
- Avoid sarcasm at all costs, even when you think it is funny.
- Use I statements instead of speaking under your breath.
- Hold private conversations to get to the root of a challenge instead of taunting students in front of their peers.
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