Gone are the days when teachers are afraid of granting student’s requests because they fear losing control of their class. After teaching for a while, saying no may become a knee-jerk reaction with either a verbal reprimand, a hard stare, ignoring, or a look of disapproval. In the past, all forms of no, whether implied or explicit were a dominant aspect of classroom interaction. However, education has adopted the consumer model where the customer is always right. Teachers have had to make a paradigm shift to becoming caring teachers who make students interests, needs, and desires important factors in their classroom interactions.
In order to make this shift, we must understand the difference between order and control in the classroom. Control invites power struggles and encourages negative interactions. Order is more desirable and allows teachers to relax and say “yes” more often. There are a variety of verbal and nonverbal ways to tell a student “yes.” Some suggestions include:
- A smile
- A nod
- Simply say “yes” when a student makes a reasonable request
- A compliment
- Agree with students’ thoughts or ideas
- Acknowledge students’ accomplishments
- Be supportive and celebrate their successes
Substitute teachers can win over more students by being positive and saying “yes” than they can by being controlling. What other verbal or non-verbal opportunities have you found to say “yes” to students?