Monday, May 7, 2012

Eliminating "Can't" From Students' Vocabulary



All too often teachers hear the phrase muttered (sometimes even exclaimed) from a frustrated student, “I can’t do this!”

As a teacher, I really dislike when students say they can’t do something.  This often leads to student-shut down (or sometimes melt-downs), depending on the situation. I always like to invoke a spirit of positivity with myself and my students.  Here’s how I do it:
At the beginning of every school year I have a discussion with my students about the word “can’t.”  I lead the students to begin discussing and pondering the negative effects of telling yourself that you can’t do something.  We also discuss when it’s appropriate to use the word; for example, if a student tells another student he can’t have a playdate.  
After this guided discussion, I give each student a piece of paper and direct them to write the word “can’t” very big on the paper.  Then I instruct the students to crumple up the piece of paper and throw it in the trash because we are eliminating this word from our vocabulary.

After that point, whenever a student attempts telling me that they can’t do something, I stop them right away and tell them that I don’t understand what they’re saying because we threw out the word “can’t.” I then direct them to a different way of communicating their frustration such as, “I’m having a hard time with this, will you help me?”

Does anyone have any other tricks likes this to share?
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