Secret Weapons of Classroom Management: The Power of Words
For the past several days I’ve been pondering the power of words. Truthfully, I’ve found myself in a season where I have gotten lax about guarding what comes out of my mouth. I’ve recently been “catching” the things I’ve been saying over myself or situations. About five years ago I wrote these words on a small display for my students:
“Your words are powerful. Say positive things, not negative. Your words have the power to shape your day.”
In the education world we have a term for this: “self-fulfilling prophecy.” In all honesty, before this became educational lingo it was a scriptural truth.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” – Proverbs 18:21, English Standard Version
“Your words are so weighty that they have the power to bring life or release death and the talkative person will reap its consequences.” Proverbs 18:21, The Passion Translation (click here to view The Passion Translation on Amazon)
Have you ever stopped to consider the power of words in the context of classroom management or in your school day? As you consider this concept, let me take a few moments to share some personal examples of how an awareness of the power of words changed the school day for my students and me.
Teaching Your Students to Speak Life
I’m sure that just like me, you’ve experienced students who are constantly speaking negative things over themselves.
I can’t do this.
This is too hard.
I know I’m going to get in trouble today.
I’m sure you could add to the list as well. As educators we’ve heard the term, “self-fulfilling prophecy” over and over again. We know that many of our students come to us broken by the words they’ve heard others say about them. In addition to that, they, themselves have started to say these same things about themselves. Each time they say them it reinforces their belief, and they find themselves in a vicious cycle of walking into the very thing they’ve heard and said. With each negative statement, these students are reinforcing their belief that they will fail. The power of words they are speaking is shaping their outcome. Essentially, as the scripture infers, they’re speaking death over their circumstance and eating its fruit. As teachers, we can teach these students how to break out of this cycle by changing what they say!
I’ve shared my most powerful testimony of this multiple times. A fiery red headed boy who was making an “A,” in all of his other classes, was making a “C,” in my Spanish class. In fact, his grade was bordering a, “D,” all because he was struggling with the grammatical concept of adjective agreement. As I’ve shared before, I began to hear his negative confessions over himself of, “I can’t. This is too hard. I don’t get it.” I encouraged him to change his statement to, “This is difficult, but I’m learning, and I’m getting better.” His mindset changed, and eventually he walked into the truth of his statement. At the end of the term he, himself, commented on how changing his speech enabled him to improve his grade from a low “C” to an “A.”
He learned the power of words, stopped speaking death over his situation, began speaking life, and as the scripture says, he reaped the fruit of his words!
Guarding Your Own Words
I’m sure the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy and the power of words concerning your students is not new to you. We carefully watch ourselves as educators to make sure we are speaking life, not death, over our students. Have you ever stopped to consider what your words are speaking over your own school day, though?
In that same timeframe five years ago as I began teaching my students to speak positive things over themselves and their learning, I also began to examine the words that were coming out of my own mouth. Things like this:
This is going to be a hectic week.
It’s the day before (insert holiday here), the kids are going to be crazy today!
I’m going to be tired at the end of this day.
Ugh, it’s Monday again.
(Insert student name) didn’t take his meds today. It’s going to be a long day!
I know I’m not alone here! We all tend to say things like this! The thing is, I realized that I was doing the very thing I was teaching my students to not do. I’m not saying that there aren’t hectic weeks, long, tiring days, and crazy moments with kids. What I AM saying, though, is that my speech was setting my expectation for those moments! As soon as the Lord quickened my attention to my own speech, I knew I needed to repent! I was speaking death over my school days, and in doing so I set my expectation for the very thing I was speaking!
Let God Change Your Speech
Over time as I caught myself thinking or saying these things, I would change my speech to a prayer, asking God for the grace for the day, the week, etc. In time I noticed that in the midst of hectic days or crazy moments, I found God giving me exactly what I needed when I needed it. At times it was “peace in the midst of my storm.” Other times it was a moment of refreshing to renew my energy to keep going. I found a supernatural strength that came only from the Lord as I learned the power of speaking life over each school day!
Renewing Your Mind
I’ll be honest. It takes as shift in the way you think to begin changing your speech, but it IS possible. I encourage you to ask God to renew your mind in this area. Ask Him to show you the things you are saying that are becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy over yourself or your students. Then, ask Him for His help in changing your lingo!
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2, English Standard Version
“Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.” Romans 12:2, The Passion Translation (click here to view the Passion Translation on Amazon.)
I want to leave you today with the same phrase I displayed for my students. “Your words are powerful. Say positive things, not negative, for words have the power to shape your day.” I encourage you to ponder the power of your words! Be the one who releases life over yourself and your students!