Thursday, January 20, 2011

Be careful little mouths what you say...

There's a song I sang growing up.  It is called "Be Careful Little Eyes What You See," and it goes through verses about ears, mouth, feet, hands. 

I had a conversation today with a colleague that brought this song to mind. She is struggling with some students talking back to her.  We ended up going back to how she has talked to the kids and how that might affect how they talk back to her.  We're working with sixth graders here, so respect is earned and lost from them quickly.

A few years ago, I was accused by some students for calling them stupid.  I never directly called any of them stupid.  I did, however, state to the class, "If you don't know your math facts this year, you will struggle." 

It was twisted in their mind that I said, " Sally, you are stupid if you don't know your math facts."  Now this incident was clearly  blown out of proportion, and what I said was a true statement.  If you get to 6th grade and are still relying on your multiplication chart, things like simplifying fractions, finding common denominators, and long division will be a struggle.  But...

It just brings back to mind that when working with adolescents, we need to be careful what we say.  We need to be careful about the tone we use.  Their young, developing minds sometimes don't hear 100% of the things we say.  Sometimes they hear things incorrectly.  If we utter the word, "crap," sirens go off in their heads.  They are prone to hearing generalizations and feeling like they are stated directly at them.  

I've stated before that teaching is personal.  Sometimes we teachers can take things a little too personally and go off.  We must be careful about this.  We are professionals.  We must speak and act like professionals.

Do you have an experience where you needed to be more careful with your words in the classroom?  What are some tips you would have for teachers who let their emotions get the best of them?