Why You Need To Use Redirecting Language Every Day

Redirecting language is a powerful tool that can help stop misbehaviors really quickly and prevent them from getting you off track while you teach. Changing my language to incorporate more effective redirecting language was challenging for me, but it has paid off tremendously.

Using redirecting language allows me to spend a significantly smaller amount of time responding to misbehavior than I used to.


Redirecting language is a powerful tool that can help stop misbehaviors really quickly and prevent them from getting you off track while you teach.


According to Responsive Classroom, "keeping teacher language simple and brief when redirecting behavior is the right choice." Your first priority needs to be getting control of your room. You can always check in with individual students later at a more convenient time to discuss expectations.


Your redirecting language can probably use some tweaks if...

  • you've felt like your students have tuned out while you've been talking (maybe the Charlie Brown teacher comes to mind)
  • you feel mean when you tell students what to do
  • you say please or thank you often when asking students to do something
  • you find you redirect students and are met with a power struggle
  • you lose the momentum of your lessons when you have to redirect when teaching

Don't worry if you think you fit into one or more of those categories. I think most teachers do at some point in their careers! Redirecting students is not about being rigid or punitive; it's about regaining control of your classroom and setting boundaries so students can do their best learning. It's simple, respectful, and firm.

Here are some good examples of really effective redirecting language. 

"Stop. Take a break."
"Walk."
"We use kind words in this classroom. Those weren't kind words."
"Push in your chair."

Be mindful that if any of these are said with a frustrated tone of voice or some sassy body language, you've probably lost a lot of impact you could have had. Do you see how short those words are? No time is spent lecturing about the proper behavior. Just briefly give the direction for students to follow. It's so much easier!!

Also, did you notice that I'm not saying "please" or "thank you?" That seems to imply that following a direction is optional. It's not optional! "Will you please raise your hand?" is not meant to be a request, so don't make it one. Say, "Raise your hand," instead.


I also like to connect redirecting language to the rules if I'm having trouble vocalizing what I want quickly. One of our student-generated rules this year is, "Show self-control." I might just say, "Follow our rule show self control." Because we've discussed the rules in depth, my class will know what that means. If you haven't done that, you might need to say something more like, "Listen quietly."



HAPPY REDIRECTING, EVERYONE! I promise you will notice your lessons moving smoothly when you don't have to stop your lesson and redirect in the moment. Even if it feels mean at first, I promise it isn't. Your students won't think it's mean either.


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Why You Need To Use Reinforcing Language Every Day

Reinforcing language is a powerful tool that can make your instruction SO much more meaningful. When I changed the way I used reinforcing language, the shift I noticed in my students was drastic and almost immediate.


In fact, I'd even go as far as to say that the majority of the language you use when students are working should probably be reinforcing language.


This one simple language skill will significantly impact your students for the better! - A Word On Third


According to Responsive Classroom, "teachers use reinforcing language to show that they see students’ positive academic and behavioral efforts and accomplishments. Their words are specific and descriptive; their tone is upbeat and encouraging."

Remember to frame your language in a way that does not put an emphasis on getting your approval. For example, "I like how you used quotation marks so your reader would know who is talking," could simply be changed to, "You used quotation marks so your reader would know who is talking." With a warm tone, this still conveys that you're proud, but it takes the emphasis away from pleasing you and places it on doing great work. 

Reinforcing language is my secret weapon. Here's why I think you should use reinforcing language too if you don't already.

It builds confidence and community.

When a teacher says, "Good job," it's nice, but it doesn't give any substantial feedback. Good job with what exactly? What do you want the child to replicate? When a child hears the exact, specific skill they did a good job with named, they will probably want to continue doing it. They'll feel recognized for their hard work.

When you can give that specific feedback, in social or academic situations, you are building a community of learners. You show what you value to your students. Teachers can get stuck in the rut of correcting mistakes too often, especially since we were probably taught that way as kids. Be mindful of how damaging that might be to a students' self-esteem--especially if it's already low to begin with!

It prevents misbehavior. 

Confident students are going to behave better. We'd all rather take a preventative approach to classroom management rather than a reactive one, right? 

Students who may be unsure of what to do but then get specific feedback about what they did well will continue doing that thing well. Oh, hey, look! That builds confidence!

I know you can see the correlation between reinforcing language and preventing misbehavior, so I will leave it at that.

It deepens understanding of concepts.

If you can walk around at some point during independent work time and and simply name what you see, you are making a huge impact on your students. Try to do this at least once per day (or even a couple of times per week). For all intents and purposes, you'll be having a bunch of mini compliment conferences and guiding students forward in the right direction with a burst of positivity.

This is especially useful when you know a student was struggling with something. It's so important to celebrate struggling students and validate the hard work they did by positively reinforcing progress towards an ultimate goal or meeting that goal. 



HAPPY REINFORCING, EVERYONE! I promise you will notice a huge difference in your students' independence and an improvement in your students' academic performance when you consistently use this type of language. If you want more detailed information on how to incorporate reinforcing language into your day, check this post.


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