I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

04 August 2012

Three Useful Phrases

One of the most important things I've learned in teaching is that it's okay not to have all the answers, make mistakes, or not be certain of the best course of action.  Some simple phrases of great classroom use:

  1. I don't know.  Also really useful when followed by "but I can find out", "what do you think?", or "how could we find out?".
  2. Sorry about that.  A simple apology has many uses.  One time it comes in handy is when an activity fails.  If something goes wrong, I generally try to debrief it with my class.  That way, I can publicly take responsibility for my part in the problem, troubleshoot what we can do if I make the same mistake again, and/or observe areas of shared fault.  (For instance, if I give unclear directions for getting materials and this leads to drama, the poor directions are my fault.  We may need a general procedure to avoid this happening again, or we may already have a related procedure that my students could have applied, but given the bad directions and the pleasure of chaos, they didn't.)
  3. What would you like to happen now?  I find this useful when talking to aggrieved children.  I don't always know what will solve a conflict, or why information is being shared with me.  What do you want me to do about it? can also work, but it's more of an "advanced teacher" phrase, I think - too easy for it to sound accusatory or unhelpful.  The responses to this are often very illuminating.  Sometimes children just wanted to share information, sometimes they can get some insight into tattling (sometimes the response is "I want them to be in trouble"), and sometimes you can come up with some reconciliation that is more effective than an apology.  Children are quite creative in restoring relationships, I've found.

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