Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tone of Voice

Something happened the other week that caused me to stop and write this.

The point of the story is this: we all need to be aware of the power of our voice. If we use the same tone all the time, then we run the risk of being dismissed as and ignored. We have both a loud and quiet voice as well as many tones (serious, playful, really mad, distracted) to call on. And we have the look in our eyes. How we use them with our students is going to affect how the relationship grows and changes.

Now, for the back story:
I walked into one of my schools and a teacher said one of my students was biting. I sat with the student to talk about what happened and what to do instead of biting. The teacher was sitting with me. As I was talking and listening to my student the teacher constantly interjected in a yelling voice: “Do you hear her? You are in real trouble. You had better listen and change.”
Finally, I asked the teacher to leave us alone and I finished with my student. We discussed alternative choices when you are frustrated. We also discussed consequences if things remained the same. (I used kid friendly words rather than the grown up ones.) I haven’t had a problem since.

Lastly, I went to the teacher one on one and tried to discuss not always yelling. It did not go well, because she was yelling! I accepted that no change would come today and moved on.

I know this isn’t the most exciting post. But the point is important: We need to build respect and trust while we command and demand. We need to remember that our students are going to become what we are, not what we tell them to be (no matter how loud we say it!). Even with all the time I spend with students, I let daily distractions and the business of class get in the way of this very important point. I figured we could all use this reminder.