Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Moving Beyond Negative Language in the Classroom

Last Thursday, I discussed how our language can often be more negative than we realize.  As a follow-up, I wanted to share how I shifted my classroom to a more positive one.  
How do we counter the negativity? It starts by making a choice to change your classroom’s climate. My classroom was a putdown-free zone. No matter what was going on, no one was allowed to use sarcasm or negative comments to put down someone else. The change was amazing. It took a few weeks for everyone to get rid of the habit of using negativity as a communication tool. However, once we removed the negative, the tone of the classroom completely changed. I also became more sensitive to hearing negative comments when I was outside my room. Our society is filled with examples of negativity, some of which supposedly passes for humor. If you don’t agree, pick any popular television show and count the comments. In fact, it’s become so much a part of our lives, we don’t even realize when we say something negative. Make your classroom a putdown-free zone and you’ll be amazed at the difference.
It’s not enough just to remove the negative; that leaves a vacuum. If you don’t fill it with something, the negative will come back. You need to be intentional about modeling a positive attitude, sharing positive comments, and providing positive feedback. Then work to get your students on board with it, too. This is actually the easy part; once you refuse to allow negative comments, they’ll join in.

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