The words you use when you speak with your students and the way you express yourself are just some of the tools you have to use when creating a strong bond with them.
There are very few rules about how you should speak to your students. The age and maturity level of your students will guide how you speak. For example, it is usually a serious offense for a teacher in an elementary classroom to tell students to shut up. In a high school classroom, this phrase is not as serious; it is merely rude. You should avoid using it, however, because there are more effective ways to ask students to stop talking.
Kind words spoken in a gentle voice make it much easier for your students to connect with you. If you say something unkind to a student, it will hurt even more than an insult from a peer because it is from someone the student should be able to count on.
The one language mistake you should never make is to swear when you are with your students. When you do this, you cross the line of what is acceptable and what is not. If you are ever tempted to swear around your students, remember that teachers have been fired for swearing at students. If a word slips out, you should immediately apologize to your students, let them know that you are embarrassed, apologize again, and then continue with instruction. After your class is over, you should speak with a supervisor and explain your side of the situation as soon as you can and certainly, before your supervisor hears about it from an angry parent or guardian.
While swear words are clearly not something you should say around students, there are other language issues you should also pay attention to. Make sure your own words are ones that help your students and do not hurt them. Never make negative or insulting remarks about any student’s
· Body size
· Sexual orientation
You should also make a point of using “I” messages whenever you can. “I” messages are statements that use words such as I, we, us, or our instead of you. For example, instead of the harsh, “You’d better pay attention,” a teacher can say, “I’d like for you to pay attention now.” “You’re too noisy" becomes “We all need to be quiet so that everyone can hear,” and “You’re doing that all wrong!” can become “I think I can help you with that.” With these simple changes, the statements are no longer accusatory, harsh in tone, or insulting. The language points out a problem but does not put anyone on the defensive. “I” messages work because they state a problem without blaming the student. This, in turn, creates a focus on a solution and not on an error the child has made.
Another way to make sure to use your teacher voice effectively is to match your tone to your purpose. Teachers who do not use a serious tone when the situation warrants it can confuse students who quickly pick up on the discrepancy between the tone of voice their teacher is using and the seriousness of the moment.
You may also recall teachers in your past who had unfortunate verbal mannerisms—repeating “you know”; or clearing their throat; or using annoying filler words, such as “like.” If you suspect that you may have a potentially distracting verbal mannerism, one of the best ways to be certain is to record yourself and listen critically. You can also ask for honest feedback from colleagues or from your students.
A final way to use your teacher voice to make it a more effective teaching tool is to vary the speed at which you speak. Teachers who talk very quickly or in a slow monotone in front of the class are not tuned in to their audience. Remember that when you are in class, you should not be in the same conversational mode that you would use with your friends. Instead, use your voice to make it easy for your students to understand you.