TALKING WITH STUDENTS

THOUGHTS FOR PRESERVICE-SERVICE AND BEGINNING TEACHERS (12)

One of the most important things about offering security to children is the way in which teachers speak “with” them. Often it’s a case of teachers talking “at” or “to” those they are teaching.

When dealing with each other in staff rooms or collaborative sessions or during professional development sessions, teachers speak conversationally. They each feel comfortable with the other and conversations manifest themselves in that manner.

When dealing with children however, teachers often lose the conversational element replacing it with what might be termed “command language”. The niceness of speech often dissipates and delivery takes on a quite harsh quality.

Metaphorically speaking when dealing with each other, teachers are somewhat like motorcars which hum quietly from point a to point b. However, when relating to children those same teachers trade the cars for four wheel drive vehicles, lock them into 4×4 and then grate their way through conversation with children in a manner that can be far from pleasant.

Language can be embracing or off putting. In order to draw children close in terms of comfort, qualities of conversation and vocalisation are important. There is no way the teachers will draw children in and toward them if their language in terms of its invitation pushes them away.

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