Reitz High School

Reitz High School
Evansville, IN

Friday, November 30, 2012

How is Your Tone?

           I hope all of my readers had a great Thanksgiving.  I am still recovering from the amount of dumplings and desserts I had over the four-day weekend.  It was really one of the best Thanksgiving breaks that I can remember.  I feel refreshed and am now ready to take on the countdown to Christmas.

            Let’s get down to business.  The title of this week’s article is called “How is Your Tone?”  Have you ever listened to a speaker or overheard someone say something that you agreed with, but you just didn’t like his or her delivery?  You might have even said to yourself, “Why did they say it like that?”  Sometimes the tone in which things are said can be a turn off to people and make your valid point or comment completely futile.

            The way we talk to our students is no exception.  When you talk to a student about a poor behavior or a bad choice they made, there are methods that are effective and there are also methods that can escalate the situation completely out of proportion.  Trust me, in my 20 years of being a teacher; I have done the latter of these two not only in my classroom, but with my own children.  It wasn’t that the child didn’t need to be corrected.  It wasn’t that what I said was wrong, but it was how I said it.  My tone set the stage for the outcome.

            This is not an easy thing to do.  It is in fact very difficult.  You have just spent hours preparing a lesson, gathering materials, and setting it up in your classroom or online.  You have high expectations that your students will be engaged in this lesson and will love it.  The last thing you want or need is for one of your students to misbehave and keep other students from learning.  You also have in the back of your mind that your evaluation depends on the growth of your students’ learning.  So you are in front of the class with the adrenaline flowing, you have the attention of your students, and everything is going peachy when one of your students decides to check out and cause a disruption.  I would compare this situation to an episode of “COPS.” You know the one where the speeder drives away from the scene and now there is a high-speed chase. 

            Now you are in hot pursuit of this student.  Your temper has gotten the best of you and just like in the TV show, the car has crashed, the trooper it out yelling at the speeder to get on the ground.  You now find yourself raising your voice at the student that disrupted your lesson.  Well, at that point you have blown it.  Nothing good is going to come out of it.  You just took it to a level that it did not need to go.  You didn’t watch your tone.  If you have taught for any period of time, you know exactly what I am talking about.  Unfortunately, none of our college education classes taught how us how to have the patience of Job.

            So, I am writing this today to help remind you to take a few deep breaths, get control of yourself, and use a tone that will not escalate any situation in to orbit.  If it were easy, we would all be doing it, right? I want you to know that I am writing this article for myself as well. I want to conclude by saying this.  Your tone is much more powerful than the content of what you say.  Now make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.

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