POSITIVE ADJECTIVES – Can the use of positive adjectives in the classroom make a difference in children’s well-being? Definitely YES. Discover from an English teacher how and why.
Have you ever heard of a perfect classroom? I’ve not, but if you have, then that’s probably a myth. As a teacher, you may have noticed that every student is different. Some are good in academics, some are good in sports. Some have excellent social skills, while the others take the time to open up. Some are cheerful and zesty yet some remain silent. Some are excited about the class and some just want to hear the bell go off.
My class was no different, and I initially had problems dealing with my students.
I teach a group of young fifth graders, 35 to be accurate, who are all 10-11 years old. Unlike my other classes, the first week with my new students wasn’t comfortable as many of them were distracted and some even seemed disinterested in what they were learning. Only a few took interest and participated while there were some who wanted to talk but kept holding themselves back. It gets really tough, especially when you’re teaching ESL to them. I started to doubt my teaching skills, but turns out it wasn’t me after all (phew!). I took a gasp of relief and tried to get to the real problem and fix it early on.
By observing my students and by finding out more about their background, I narrowed down to a list of 14 students who had some problems that were affecting their behavior. My observations unveiled the fact that many of those 14 students had family issues, a troubled household, and lack of attention causing loneliness. A few felt insecure about their appearance and how they were being picked on by others.
These were some serious issues that are enough to damage your self-confidence and make you unhappy.
Introducing Positive Adjectives: The Chosen Words
I planned to reinforce some positivity in my classroom, and what better way to do it than using ‘words’, right? Yes. Using positive adjectives in my class was the best solution. Students need to have a positive approach to life and positive words, appreciation, and encouragement are a vital part of their early development.
So I made a list of 12 simple positive adjectives (descriptive type) and divided them into groups of 3. Since everyone in my class uses smartphones, I made flashcards for each adjective on Cram with their meanings on the flip side. I shared them with my students and work got so much easier.
|Group 1||Group 2||Group 3||Group 4|
|Adaptable Courageous Courteous||Ambitious Resourceful Creative||Diligent Reliable Sensible||Exuberant Gregarious Philosophical|
These were the twelve positive adjectives I chose to use in my classroom early on. Thus began the experiment to introduce the ‘Positive Approach’ to lighten up the mood and invite active participation.
The Positive Month
As I had mentioned, some of the kids in my class were unhappy. I already knew what was bothering them. Their problems were common and well known to me. Since this was the fifth grade, it was still easy to shape them and bring a change in their behavior and way of thinking. It was a learning experience for the remaining students as well.
After dividing the adjectives into groups of 3, it was now time to implement them into our everyday routine. But how? My students react better to stories and tales. So I thought of approaching every positive adjective with a short story.
As a teacher of English, you have already gone through loads of Literature and that way, you often become a good storyteller to engage your students. Luckily, I could come up with good stories that are relevant to the current times as a background for each of my chosen words.
I planned a month long process and focussed on one group of adjectives per week. I also asked them to implement over weekends what they learned in class and write a small article about their experience.
Adaptable, Courageous, and Courteous
My aim for the first week was to instill self-confidence and make the students feel positive about themselves, ignore the negativity and be kind to others.
Ambitious, Creative, Resourceful
The second lesson after self-belief and kindness was to make my students think out of the box. Children should know how to approach their dreams, know their limitations and utilize what’s available to them to the fullest.
Diligent, Reliable, Sensible
The next phase focused on imparting a sense of responsibility, completing work on time, and sensing what’s correct and what’s wrong.
Exuberant, Gregarious, Philosophical
Finally, the last week of the month was meant to teach my students the power of being cheerful and positive around people, and the impact it had on their attitude. Students must learn to be rational and calm while going through difficulties and facing disappointments.
I carefully framed stories that were very close to the situations that some students were facing at home. There was a subtle indication to those students without singling them out or making their condition public as I knew they’d feel awkward. I certainly didn’t want that to happen.
I was happy with the results as my students were more engaged in the classroom and participated in conversations without the fear of being judged or judging their classmates. I was really happy to hear a parent come to me and share her thoughts on her daughter’s changed behavior.
My students learned to see their positives attributes over the negative ones, started to respect everyone around them, and would no more get cranky for frivolous things. That was a win for me as their teacher.
A Positive Message
I’d like to quote the example of the Solomon Islanders here. The natives of the Solomon Islands follow a unique method of cursing and yelling at the trees that are too big to be cut down. They do it for a few months and just like that, the tree starts dying and falls. Such is the impact of negative words.
A hearty message that I give my students is to think positive and stay positive. Negative words are bad and as the good old saying goes, Sticks and stones may break my bones but words hurt forever.
Picture source: flickr.com
Sophia Sanchez is a passionate educator and blogger who blogs about education on her personal blog.
She is an ESL/EFL instructor who found her true calling — teaching — while she was juggling writing and a 9-5 desk job. In her free time, she watches movies and takes up freelance writing gigs. If you want to connect with her, you can find her on facebook and twitter.