2/4 Tuesday – Little Phrases to Save the Day
I have a bunch of little catchphrases that I use every day. I think that all teachers do! “One, two, three. Eyes on me!” These quick little sentences help reorient our classes and get kids’ attention. The other day I was in a friend’s classroom and heard her say one that I’d never heard before and it seemed so brilliant.
So, why not share a few of the little phrases that I hear myself say every day. Hopefully one or two of the verbal prompts below can help you in your classroom and get your kids back on track!
#1 – “Knees, Nose, Tummy, Toes”
This is a great one for Kindergarten and 1st grade. Whenever we’re sitting down and trying to get settled into a new place in the room I tell them that I need them to “Turn and face me with your knees, nose, tummy, and toes.” That means that all of their little body needs to be pointing toward me. If I see a kid talking I can ask the group, “Where is your nose pointed? Everybody check.” Or if a kid is distracted I could ask them to “Make sure your knees and toes are pointing towards me!” It’s a quick fix that they like and hey, it rhymes!
Super Quick Sidebar: Thanks to Debbie Gray, my mentor teacher from student teaching for this gem of an idea! You can get her AMAZING book filled with lots of fun tidbits on Amazon. Debbie never really had plans to write a book. She’d been giving ideas and encouragement to student teachers for nearly 30 years when one of her student teachers said, “Debbie! Write this stuff down!” Imagine all the great things she’s learned in her 3 decades of teaching and all the tricks she’s come up with and you can imagine what’s in her book. Debbie is the person who thought up a TON of the great freebie ideas I’ve talked about here on the blog including Chalk Circles for classroom management, Thank You Sprinkles as a reward for kids, and Cool Kid Spray which has to be the most amazing positive reinforcement tool in the world. Seriously, I’ve said it before and will say it again: Love Debbie! Check out her book!
#2 – “Say It While You Play It”
This was one phrase that I started using when I was doing my drumming unit but also helps when you’re playing Orff instruments. When kids speak a rhythm, poem, or ostinato pattern as they play an instrument they stick closer to the beat. It’s usually the kids who aren’t internalizing that beat or that rhyme that are off from the group. Reminding them to “say it while they play it” gets them to reregister what it is that they’re doing and really think about the pattern. Speaking and playing at the same time is a higher level thinking skill as students have to juggle multiple things going at once.
#3 – “You Are Responsible for Your Own Actions!”
When I was out doing field experience I spent some time at a school where ALL students said this little phrase after the pledge of allegiance EVERY DAY. Oh. My. Goodness. It was awesome. Kids were constantly reminded that they were in charge of their learning, their behavior, and their actions. If a student was off task the teacher could ask them who was responsible for their learning. If a student was sent to the principal because they were having behavior problems the principal would ask them about what happened and remind them of this little phrase. The kid had to own their actions and instead of blaming another student they had to frame the conversation around their own choices. On the flip side, if a student did really well everyone knew that it was the hard work of that person who accomplished the task. I love this phrase and have it posted in big letters in my room because I want kids to remember that they are in charge of their own actions and they make the choices that really matter.
#4 – “Be My Echo”
This was something that my Orff Level I teacher, Dean Beyers, said a lot during my levels course and it totally stuck with me. Instead of saying, “listen to what I play and then echo it back to me” I’ve learned that I can say something as easy as “Be My Echo” and the kids totally get it. This is a great way to start your classes. “Be My Echo” and launch into a 4 beat rhythm pattern that they have to echo clap/pat/whatever. Or say “be my echo” and lead them in some solfege with hand signs. Or movement patterns. Or body percussion while you sing. I love to start with “be my echo” to take a second to get my bearings because I don’t have a break between classes. I’ll often have students echo and/or clap (which I can improvise without really thinking about it) while I walk over to the lesson plan book to reorient myself before we get too far in the class. It’s an easy thing to do and so helpful!
These are just a couple little phrases that I use a LOT. What are some little things that you catch yourself saying? Leave a comment below if you’d like to share. I’d love to learn from you!
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