“Don’t compromise who you are or what you have come here to achieve.” – Cody Rigby
“Be better today than you were yesterday.” – Jennifer Jacobs
In June of this year I joined the Peloton community. Getting on the spin bike and taking a class energizes me daily. I have my favorite instructors who not only push me but inspire me with their words. Many of the things instructors like Cody Rigby and Christine D’Ercole say throughout the workouts promote positivity and can translate in our classrooms. For example, during a ride with Christine D’Ercole she states, “What are the numbers that really count? The numbers don’t know how strong you are. The numbers don’t know how bad you want it. There is not metric for will power, determination, or heart. #IAMICANIWILLIDO”
After hearing Christine talk about numbers I thought about my students and the numbers and letters that drive their thinking and often, their identity. Whether it is a grade or a test score, our students are taught to believe these numbers count. But they don’t in the long run. We need to remind students that they are more than a letter or number grade. We need to use our words for good and remind our students that they matter.
While reading Joy Kirr’s newest book, Word Shift (2019), I realize I need to pay attention to the words that I use because the message that transpires is based on my choice of words. “The language we’ve been exposed to and the words we use when we talk about others (and ourselves) all have an impact on the way we view the world and the people in it. More importantly, as educators, what we say shapes the way our learners think about themselves and their place in the world.
If you want less negativity and more positivity in your life, classroom, and school, start by changing the words you use each day. Make your language match what you really want to believe and what you really want to happen.”
Choosing the right words is so important to empower students and colleagues. Our words help to create a positive environment and our words become actions. Thus, more positive word choice leads towards better outcomes. Joy not only offers a dictionary that promotes positivity in education, she includes words to reflect upon and alternatives to consider. Here are a few I will be omitting:
Speaking in Absolutes
Labels like “bad seed, behavior problem, class clown, gifted”
“Great job” – Let’s be more specific to help students grow.
Pop Quiz, Worksheets, and Homework
As for positive phrases to use, Joy offers so many good ones. Here are my top 5:
“Let’s try . . . ”
“I am glad you asked that question.”
“I want to learn from you.”
“Please share, I’d love your contributions.”
“I believe in you.”
My focus in the new school year is to inspire and energize students and colleagues with positive words. Joy Kirr’s book Word Shift brings attention to what we say and how we say it. Just as the Peloton instructors use their words to push me to be better, I will use my words and attitude to spark a positive difference in the classroom.