I have now started reading Opening Minds by Peter H. Johnston and it has my mind racing all over again. Words have such an impact on students and teaching. Thinking of the classroom as a world that we all live in for 8 hours kind of seems silly, until you look at it. My students often ask me what I do after work, even in fourth grade they are unsure of my life outside of the classroom and tend to think I live here. Well I do with them for 8 hours and we have become a ‘family’. So when you look at it like that then yes, our classroom is our world for the day and we are able to accomplish so many things.
Since we are looking as the classroom as our world for 8 hours the words we use to communicate with our students is still vital. Being able to ‘level’ with our students and show them that we are human just like them goes a long way. In my own classroom my students have experienced many of my mistakes. They are not afraid to let me know when I have made a mistake and accept when I goof/make a mistake. It has helped them to see me as not only their teacher but as someone like them who is not perfect.
So many times in the classroom students look at themselves as a person who is able or not able to do something. While I want my students to think they are able to do anything- it is easier said then done. They have learned and convinced themselves that once they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at something that, that is the way it is. Building confidence in students and getting them to ‘work hard’ is a great way to help students see that they are able to do anything and have the ability to do it. Students believe that they are born with good and bad intelligences and are stuck with that title. In my own classroom I have experienced this many times. The case the hit home with me was one of my students telling me he was not good at math so he did not like it. After showing him multiple ways to do something and encouraging him on what he is doing- he is now enjoying math and excelling in it.
Giving students a dynamic learning frame they are able to escape the ideas of good and bad students/learners. This help students become flexible in their learning and understand what they being challenged to do. Having to retrace learning steps helps us look at what is going on. In the classroom world there is so much that is going on. The words and interactions that we have students says so much about it.