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10/28/19: The Minute Message

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."

~ Frederick Douglas


In order to guide students toward choosing and maintaining positive behaviors, adults need to carefully choose their words and tone of voice when speaking to them. With our words, we convey assumptions and expectations about students which, in turn, influences the beliefs they hold about themselves.


Imagine Becky bouncing through the school doors in the morning. She is an enthusiastic person and often forgets the rules about walking down the hallway. Today, however, she remembers! As she heads down the hallway, an adult speaks to her. Compare these two scenarios:


a.) Becky, don't even think about running this morning. I'm watching you!

b.) Good morning, Becky! I see you're remembering to walk safely in the hall. Nice job!


These two greetings send very different messages. The first one not only conveys a lack of faith in Becky’s ability to follow the rules, it conveys an impression that Becky and her behavior are not all that welcome in school. The second way communicates that an adult recognizes Becky’s good intentions and, most importantly, believes that she can succeed.


By using positive language regarding student abilities and intentions, you help them internalize a positive identity and develop more awareness and self-control. As a bonus, your language helps those within earshot form a positive perception of the child, which further enhances their self-perception and helps to promote positive behavior!


Thank you for believing in students and building them up. Have a great week!

Sam Moore is the PBIS coach and drug prevention coordinator for Roseburg Public Schools.


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