What We Say Matters…Even Online

May 1, 2020
May 1, 2020 Shauna

What We Say Matters…Even Online

Student-Centered Language

When leading a virtual class session, it can be a natural tendency to feel that we must talk or lecture more than we would in a face to face session. The feeling that we are talking to ourselves as we sit in front of our laptop screen is deceiving since there are real students on the other end, hoping that we will acknowledge and recognize their presence.  While our intentions are usually good, a high level of teacher talk is not characteristic of a student-centered classroom.

Consider these 3 simple strategies to keep your virtual sessions more engaging and student-centered:

1.    Minimize the use of first-person language. 

According to author Mike Anderson, “First-person language can command attention to oneself even if the original intent was to get students to share with each other.”

Phrase questions and statements to direct student engagement toward each other:

“What are your ideas?” vs. “I want to hear your ideas.”

“Be ready to share what you read.” vs. “Be ready to tell me what you learned.

2. Create a learning partnership.

Author and researcher, Zaretta Hammond teaches the importance of cultivating a positive academic mindset by building an alliance with students.  Our language can foster this alliance.

“What will you do in order to log in by 9am?” vs. “I expect that you will log in at 9am.”

“How will you prepare for the next week of distance learning?” vs. “I am working on the assignments I will give you next week.”

3. Name Dropping

This technique shared by Cooperative Discipline author Dr. Linda Albert, is often used to address misbehavior in the classroom. However, if used regularly and positively, it can engage students and remind them that you see them.

“LeAnn, we are now going to discuss how to be kind and respectful in the chat room.” or “Today, Jalen, we are going to review dividing fractions.”

Our goal is to help students understand that even during our time of distance learning, they are the focus. As you plan your lessons this week, ask yourself: “How can I make my language more student-centered and less teacher-centered?

Thank you for all that you are doing for children.