Reinforcing Language

Think of reinforcing language as a ladder for children to climb up. Your words form the rungs they stand on as they reach for the next higher level of learning.

I’ve just read a very interesting article on responsiveclassroom.org about Reinforcing Language, which is a positive teacher language, and I’d like to share it with you.

Reinforcing language is one of several types of positive teacher talk used by Responsive Classroom practitioners. 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.

In the article, linked below, you will find a lot of more information and tips for using Reinforcing Language.
Here are seven key characteristics of effective reinforcing language, along with an illustration of how each might look in practice. Because we all have typical speech patterns that reflect, among other things, our personalities, the suggested words might not sound like ones you would normally use. With practice, though, you’ll find that you can incorporate all of these key characteristics of reinforcing language without losing your personal style.

1. Instead of giving global priase (“Great job!”), name concrete, specific behaviors so students know exactly what they’re doing that’s helping them learn.

Instead of… Try…
What a great piece of writing! You used lots of describing words.
That will really help readers “see” your story!

2. Speak in a tone that’s warm and encouraging, but professional.

Instead of…
Try…
Ooh, Liam, you did such a nice, nice job with your writing today!
I noticed that you worked really hard on your writing today, Liam, and your audience responded with enthusiasm when you read it aloud.

3. Grant children dignity by addressing them respectfully.

Instead of… Try…
Ok, [my little ducks, sweeties…] Ok, [students, learners, writers, mathematicians…]

4. Emphasize students’ actions and accomplishments over our personal approval.

Instead of… Try…
I really like all the adjectives you used in your writing! I see that you used lots of adjectives in your writing.

5. Add a question to extend student thinking.

Instead of… Try…
I see that you used lots of adjectives
in your writing.
I see that you used lots of adjectives in your writing. Why did you decide to do that?

6. Find positives to name in all students – including those who are struggling.

Instead of… Try…
You need to work harder at your writing, Mia. You just don’t stick with it long enough. You worked longer at your writing today, Mia. What helped you to do that?

7. Avoid naming individual students as examples for others.

Instead of… Try…
Marley, Max, Juan, and JD have
already put away their writing
supplies and taken their seats in the circle!
I see more and more people putting away their writing supplies and taking their seats in the circle.

https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/article/hows-your-reinforcing-language

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