Reinforcing Language: Giving Middle Schoolers Supportive Feedback

Teacher language—the words, tone, and pace we use when we talk to students—may be the most powerful of all our teaching tools. After all, language permeates nearly every interaction we have with students; we use words to exchange friendly greetings, give instructions, deliver content, and check understanding.
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Taking Positive Language Schoolwide

Positive language is a powerful tool for building a calm, safe school climate. The words we use when we talk to students, the intention behind these words, and how we deliver them…
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How’s Your Reinforcing Language?

Once June arrives, it’s tempting to focus on the more leisurely days ahead. That’s important to do—we all need rest and rejuvenation. But before you begin that well-earned downtime, pause for a…
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Teaching Without Using Rewards

Children build on their strengths, and to do that building—to grow academically and socially—they need us to recognize and encourage their positive efforts. But what’s the best way to offer that recognition…
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What’s in a Name?

How do you refer to the students in your class when addressing them? At first glance, this may seem like a trivial issue; but consider how many times throughout the day we…
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Reinforcing, Reminding, and Redirecting

Adapted from the new 2nd edition of The Power of Our Words 
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Asking Strategic Questions

Adapted from the new book The Language of Learning: Teaching Students Core Thinking, Listening, & Speaking Skills 
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Sometimes Less Is More

The other day Ben returned to our classroom after a session with the occupational therapist, yelling "I'm here, guys!," which interrupted the lesson and caused a few students to giggle. I looked…
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Noticing Positives

What’s going well in your classroom these days? At this time of year, especially, it’s common for teachers to focus more energy on challenges such as reteaching procedures that aren’t going smoothly,…
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Naming What Children Can Do

Mr. Park's fourth grade class was the most impulsive and squirmy group of children he'd ever taught. Children speaking out of turn, talking to neighbors, playing with small objects, or making odd…
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The Value of Struggle

"When did your courage surprise you?" I was profoundly moved by this question when it was posed at a conference I attended years ago, and it came back to me recently when…
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The Method of Grandmother

Chip Wood recently shared a link on the Yardsticks blog to TED talk by Sugata Mitra, an educational researcher who’s done some compelling research on child-driven education and technology. Midway through the…
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Keeping Routines Crisp

(This is one of a series of posts about  reteaching everyday classroom routines, such as lining up or responding to the quiet signal.)Once you and your students have gotten classroom routines back…
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Letting Go of “But”

Have you ever had a friend (or relative) who couldn't seem to give a full compliment? I have one (she shall go unnamed) who can't help but qualify every kind thing she…
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Reflecting on Classroom Routines

What routines do you use in your classroom? Which are going well? Which still need some work?
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Use Reinforcing Language to Keep the Learning Going

Often, when I talk with teachers who have started trying out Responsive Classroom practices such as interactive modeling, they reflect, “Interactive modeling worked great for a while. My students did really well…
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What Students Hear

We all have funny stories about things children say as they try to make sense of what they're learning in school, such as this one a teacher shared with me recently:The teacher…
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The Power of Teacher Language

As the children come back from lunch, they are slow to quiet down. Calmly, the teacher rings a chime, a well-rehearsed signal for attention. She waits a moment until the last child…
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How I got over my “I notice . . .” blues

Years ago, as a beginning Responsive Classroom practitioner, I became determined to stop using the phrase, "I like the way . . ." to control children's behavior. For example, I'd been saying,…
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Watching and Learning

Question: In The Power of Our Words and The First Six Weeks of School, you write about how important it is for teachers to get to know their students at the beginning…
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The Power of Language

A teacher's language is a powerful teaching tool. Our language can build children up or tear them down. It can model respectful and caring social interactions or just the opposite. Effective language…
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