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13 Common Sayings to Avoid

September 20, 2015

What did you say?

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 8.34.52 PMDr. Richard Curwin, the Director of the Graduate program in behavior disorder at David Yellin College wrote an article for Edutopia that is called 13 Common Sayings to Avoid. As you start off the school year you might want to give these some thought. I know there are some on the list that I said to students during my 30 years of teaching. Perhaps you as well.

The link to the entire article is at the bottom of this post.

Here are the first four:

1. “You have potential but don’t use it.”
Students feel insulted when they hear this, and while some accept it as a challenge to do better, more lose their motivation to care. Instead, say in a caring way, “How can I help you reach your full potential?”

2. “I’m disappointed in you.”
Of course we occasionally are disappointed in things that our students do. In addition, the result of openly expressing that disappointment depends as much on the way we say it as the words we use. But students have told me that they hate hearing a teacher say this. The problem with this saying is that it looks to the past. A more helpful approach looks to the future. The alternative might be more like, “What do you think you can do to make a more helpful decision the next time you are in a similar situation?”

3. “What did you say?”
This is the challenge that some teachers might throw down when walking away from a student after a private discussion about behavior and hearing that student whisper something. “What did you say?” is just bait for escalation. Do you really want to know what was whispered? It’s better to ignore that unheard comeback and move on. You don’t always need to have the last word.

4. “If I do that for you, I’ll have to do it for everyone.”
In our book, Discipline With Dignity, Al Mendler and I make a strong case for the policy that fair is not equal. You can’t treat everyone the same and be fair. Each student needs what helps him or her, and every student is different. Further, no one wants to think of him- or herself as one of a herd. It’s better to say, “I’m not sure if I can do that, but I’ll do my best to meet your needs in one way or another.”

5. “It’s against the rules.”
Rules are about behavior. Often there are many behaviors from which people can choose in order to solve a problem. Some may be within the rules. Try saying this instead: “Let me see if there’s a way to meet your need within the rules.”

6. “Your brother/sister was better than you.”
Never compare siblings or anyone else in a positive or negative way about anything. Comparisons can only lead to trouble regardless of which side of the coin the student is. My grandchildren always ask me, “Who’s your favorite?” What if I actually gave an answer?

Link to the entire article: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/13-common-sayings-to-avoid-richard-curwin?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=090915%20enews%20CM%20gm&utm_content=&utm_term=top4&spMailingID=12355161&spUserID=MjcyNzg2Mjk4MTAS1&spJobID=620643703&spReportId=NjIwNjQzNzAzS0.

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