Let’s say I’m standing at the front of my classroom as students enter and i want to acknowledge a student, Afonte, who’s met my expectations: come in, got out his stuff, got to work right away on the Do Now–just right. It’s a classic case of a place where I might want to acknowledge (not praise) in a manner that is both genuine (i.e. I am sincere and honest in what I saw to Afonte) and that has the ancillary effect of causing other students to see the normalcy of behavior like Afonte’s more than behavior that’s not as productive.
I was thinking about the difference between using these two sentences in that situation:
- “Afonte is getting right to work”
- “Thank you for getting right to work, Afonte.”
I think I have a strong preference for one over the other. Want to guess which one?
The answer is that I prefer the second sentence for the simple reason that in it, I am speaking directly to Afonte rather than about him to others. That’s a more normal and natural interaction between two people and thus it makes my words feel more sincere and genuine. It accurately portrays the fact that I am thanking him and also see some benefit to it if others overhear that remark. That’s a bit different from talking about someone aloud to others. There the emphasis is on causing other to observe Aphonte and with Aphonte overhearing that secondary.
I still think #1 is a fine and useful thing to say in the classroom. I’m not saying it always has to be #2 and never #1. They’re both doing the same work of Positive Framing. I think that what I am saying is that I hear some added ingenuousness to #2 and over time–daily doses–it is likely to sustain and build a more positive relationship with my students– Just by a tiny bit, but a tiny difference repeated a few hundred times over the course of the year can have a pretty big compounded affect.
Any sense to that? What do you think?