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."
"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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