Teaching is knowing how to say what you want to say. To this day the most difficult part of teaching for me is word usage. How can I use my words effectively to inspire, instruct, and redirect? How can I use age appropriate images, vocabulary, and instructions? How many words are necessary, and when is it best to just listen and observe?
I am a talker; I feel comfortable talking to anyone at anytime. I love telling stories and am prone to hyperbole. Lack of words has never been a problem for me. I give advice when it isn't asked, and am always happy to share my perspective. Yet, I feel strongly that teaching is listening, observing, and guiding rather than telling. I have to constantly remind myself to think before I say anything. It much more likely that I will say too much when teaching rather than not enough. Lesson planning includes not just what I am going to do in class, but how I am going to say it.
I have started making lists of phrases that have worked for me. When I am driving in the car, I practice the words I am going to use to teach a phrase, or introduce an activity, or what I'll say to Susie Q when she starts throwing her dot. Sometimes I immediately regret something I say in class, and I'll add that to the list of things to never say. For example, "eyes up" will get students looking at the ceiling, not just off the floor. And while that sounds like common sense, in the moment it's very easy to blurt "eyes up" rather than "look out on the horizon."
What words or phrases have been successful for you when teaching? What words do you avoid? Next time, I'll share the start of my list!