Feb 1, 2011
Comments Off on Three Phrases that Change Education

Three Phrases that Change Education

To really move education, maybe it takes three phrases.

To change the landscape of a classroom, maybe it takes just three phrases.

To empower, engage, excite, energize a student it might just take three phrases.


Phrase 1:  “What do you think?”

This phrase is probably used often enough, but if given a different context it changes everything.

This is NOT a question about literary analysis or looking for the answer that is floating in your head.

This is when we ask and empower students to change the direction of their learning.

This is the question to ask teachers about school policies and culture.  This is the question we ask parents about the way our school runs.  This is a phrase of empowerment.  True educational leaders empower learning, this phrase emphasizes it.

This phrase bursts the edu-bubble.  No one has all the answers, it is together where we can move toward true learning environment.  By asking this phrase to non-educators, we are provided with insights and ideas that build our collective abilities and environments.


Phrase 2: “Thank you.”

Gratitude defines culture.  It changes the nature of relationships.  It is time that teachers, genuinely, appreciate what students bring into the classroom.

This phrase changes the nature of power.  When a teacher is genuinely thankful for the talents, intelligence, and innovation of their students, learning changes.

It is about recognizing what each member of our community brings to the table.  Gratitude defines intention.

This phrase is not to be taken lightly.


Phrase 3: “It’s worth a shot.”

No matter your philosophy and pedagogy around learning, we all know true lessons come after mistakes are made.  It is this phrase that encourages risk and diminishes the harsh fallout of risk-taking.

Teachers need to hear this.  They need to know that trying something ‘outside the norm’, a little radical, or even completely unconventional is expected.

Students need to hear this.  They need to know that learning comes from taking the shot.  No matter the circumstances, making mistakes is always better for learning then perfection.  We need to ensure our students know this.


This post was inspired, in part, by the section entitled Words, in Tom Peters’ book, The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence.

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