Educator Newsletter - February 2018
Thomas Haller, Alisa Divine and Katrina Jackson
How I Got Started
By Katrina Jackson
Over the past two years I have taken a more active role training educators in the use of verbal skills for working with students. I joined Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman in presenting Teacher Talk strategies and have contributed to the Educator Newsletters. Many people have asked me how and when I started using the Teacher Talk signature phrases.
The answer takes me back to my first year as a teacher, more than twenty-five years ago. I remember the struggle I had with getting my middle school students to listen and follow through. I found myself repeating directions and instructions over and over. I wondered why they were not responding appropriately and heeding my complying. I thought I was being clear and concise but found that my volume would increase every time I had to repeat myself. As my voice became louder, my patience decreased and my frustration increased. I was on that roller coaster of trial and error where so many first-year teachers find themselves.
As I look back on those days I know why one out of four teachers leave the classroom after their first year of teaching. Day after day I felt like I was losing control of the classroom. My voice became louder with each passing day but I did not gain the attention of my students. Instead I drew notice from the school psychologist who had an office next to my classroom. He stopped by one Friday afternoon and handed me a thin blue book entitled, Teacher Talk: What it Really Means by Chick and Nancy Moorman. He smiled and calmly said, "You might find this helpful."
I spent the weekend reading through the pages of Teacher Talk and a powerful message became clear, there is an undeniable link to the words I use as a teacher and the attitudes and outcomes students create in the classroom. I chose several phrases from the book that resonated with me and wrote them on note cards. The following week I carried those phrases with me and said them throughout the day. As the week progressed I noticed that I was repeating myself less often and my volume decreased. I was changing and the response from my students was changing too. Disruptive behaviors decreased in my classroom and I felt more confident as an educator.
The verbal skills in Teacher Talk and The Teacher Talk Advantage by Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman became the cornerstone of my classroom management. Their educator newsletter became the online resource that kept my professional growth fresh and empowering. I have taught Special Education at Risk Title One students of all ages and the constant in my classroom has been the verbal skills in my teacher talk. Below are a few tips I have learned along my journey as an educator:
Teacher Talk Advantage Tip #1:
Doing power to students does not work no matter how loud you get. Empower them instead with choices and outcomes.
Teacher Talk Tip #2:
"Why" questions sound judgmental and accusatory. They encourage defensiveness. Use "What" or "How" questions instead.
Teacher Talk Advantage Tip #3:
Replace "Why do you ask so many questions" with "I'm glad you are so interested in learning."
Teacher Talk Advantage Tip #4:
A sentence NOT to say to your students or yourself, ever, "I wasn't good at math either.”
Teacher Talk Advantage Tip #5:
If you are unsure how to respond to a classroom management problem, pause, move up in consciousness before you move in with action and ask yourself, "What is it that I need to know?" Look IN for an answer.
Chick has stepped gently into semi-retirement and I have joined Thomas in continuing the mission of providing verbal skill strategies for helping educators create a classroom atmosphere that demonstrates concern, caring, and genuine interest in students' well-being. My favorite quote from The Teacher Talk Advantage is, "Only skills save." My goal is to be a valuable part of your classroom by continuing to provide you with those valuable verbal skills.
Chick and Thomas, thank you for inviting me aboard.
Thomas Haller
Katrina Jackson
Alisa Divine
Teacher Talk Tip
Remove "Honestly" from the beginning of your sentence. It implies that all the other stuff you said is not true.
Video Clip
Video Clip: Chick and Thomas, What is the Advantage to The Teacher Talk Advantage?
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