Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
– Mother Teresa
When it comes to building a positive classroom culture, you must rely on a variety of classroom management techniques. Each classroom is unique, with different aspects that affect student behavior. How student personalities mesh in a classroom environment, relationships between teacher and students, and developmental factors all impact culture in the classroom. Experienced educators often set the tone for the entire year at the very beginning, establishing a foundation for student success. However, after a few weeks or months you might feel your classroom environment starting to lose some of its positivity.
Unfortunately, factors outside of your control can sap student attention and affect behavior. Left unchecked, this slide can completely derail the positive classroom culture you and your students have worked hard to build. Luckily, there is a positive classroom management technique to help everyone get back on track: positive language.
Benefits of Using Positive Language in the Classroom
While your overall school culture directly affects classroom behavior, classroom culture feels more personal to your students. The time you spend together as a class can be one of the biggest factors in the development of important soft skills.
As a classroom management technique, the use of positive language establishes a baseline for all communication. This includes not only interactions with you, the teacher, but also interactions between students. Positive language can help you address behavior, create an atmosphere for receptive listening, and guide your students in resolving conflicts. It can also help make all students feel included and accepted – an important quality in any educational environment.
Students will take their cues from you, so be intentional with this positive classroom management technique. When you incorporate positive language in your classroom, you set a standard for communication that benefits your students in many ways.
4 Ways to Incorporate Positive Language in the Classroom
Poor behavior can be an indicator that something isn’t quite right. Whether it’s coming from an individual student, a group, or the whole class, poor behavior can mean students need additional attention. Positive language can help you turn things around. The words you use and the tone you deliver them in can be powerful. You can incorporate positive language when you:
Coach Your Students
You can use positive language to reflect your belief in your students’ abilities. The pace of learning often varies from student to student. Some will grasp the concepts in a lesson very quickly. Others will need to take extra time to process it. The positive language of coaching places focus on the efforts and persistence of students in the process of learning.
You worked hard to figure that out.
I like how you didn’t give up on that tough problem.
Let’s look at a new way to understand this.
Student behavior can be challenging, especially when they’re distracted, loud, or messy. Barking orders can send your students over the edge and isn’t always necessary. By relying on a raised voice or harsh tone too often, you run the risk of your students ignoring your direction when it really counts. Save that tactic for the times when you really need their immediate attention.
Wow, we’ve made a mess! Let’s see how quickly we can clean up.
We can get to recess sooner if everyone quietly finishes their work.
You’ve almost got it – let’s try it again.
Diffuse Tension with Redirection
Some days in the classroom are tough for everyone. The stress of upcoming testing, friction among classmates, or an individual student’s private issues can rev up classroom tension. Positive language can help teach your students how to solve disagreements in a positive manner and self-soothe.
We all seem to be feeling anxious right now. Let’s reset! We can practice our belly breaths until we start to feel better.
Are you and your partner having trouble agreeing? Could you use a break?
I understand that you’re upset. Use kind words to talk things out.
Use Inclusive Language
Positive language should always encompass how we refer to students and their families. One in four students lives in a single-parent household, while others may not be living with parents at all. Grandparents, legal guardians, stepparents, and parent partners are often part of the picture, as well. Additionally, some students may choose pronouns to reflect their gender identity, rendering the common monikers of “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen” ineffective. Positive, inclusive language will help you to address everyone in an equitable manner.
Permission slips for the field trip are due next week. Please make sure to have yours signed by an adult in your household.
There seems to be a lot of unnecessary talking going on. Scholars, let’s all get settled and ready to learn.
For this next project let’s divide into teams. Count off from one to five and we’ll divide up by number.
Being Mindful of Mental Health
Mental health issues among students are at an all-time high. The year 2020 radically altered every aspect of students’ lives, affecting their education, personal relationships, and self-esteem. Online schooling, increased social media use, and physical and emotional isolation affected students across the board. In 2021, suicide attempts among young people soared. Bullying, fighting, and gun violence all appear to be on the rise. In such an environment, educators, families, and communities must make student mental health a priority.
While positive language won’t solve or fix student mental health struggles, a concerned and encouraging attitude can help. For many schools, regularly checking in on student social and emotional health enables educators to identify at-risk individuals. Tracking social and emotional statuses allows schools to spot trends and provide assistance where needed.
Positive Classroom Management With PBIS Rewards
A PBIS initiative can help you to inject positivity into your classroom environment through the acknowledgment of positive behaviors. Because this acknowledgment goes hand-in-hand with positive language, PBIS is an effective way to build positive school culture.
PBIS Rewards helps simplify the management of a schoolwide PBIS initiative. Our digital token economy allows you to recognize students quickly and easily, accurately track points, and efficiently operate a school store. The software tracks multiple data points, enabling you to generate a wealth of reports to assess the effectiveness of your initiative. Additionally, you can track student mental health trends with our SEL/Status Check feature. Students and families can get more deeply involved in your PBIS initiative with the PBIS Rewards Student App and PBIS Rewards Family App.