2 Questions for YOU and YOUR Students

The beginning of a school year is a great time to do some self-reflection and goal setting, for both students and teachers. This year, try a more creative approach to help them reflect and set goals for the year. Instead of the boring, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “What do you want to accomplish this year?” show your students this video and have them answer these 2 questions:

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

Daniel Pink’s book, Drive has been out for years, but I still get the best ideas from it and apply it to my work with children and education. I’ve been thinking a lot about executive functions lately and this video fits perfectly with the use of “self-talk”. Asking your students to think about their own life and encouraging them to ask themselves what they want to be remembered by will help motivate them throughout the year.

After they write their own sentence, help them create a visual art representation of it to feature their sentence and display it in the classroom. At the end of the week, have them reflect back on their week and answer the 2nd question. Have them write a few sentences and answer what went well and what they could have done differently. When I worked in a school, my teacher friend and I actually submitted a video with our sentence and our students’ sentences. Daniel Pink used a few of them in this video! See if you can spot me in it at 1:43  : )

What’s Your Sentence?: The Video from Daniel Pink on Vimeo

Here’s my sentence for this year:

“She helped teachers and students develop and discover a love for creativity and passion.”

What’s yours?


Discover more great ideas from Daniel Pink here: http://www.danpink.com/

Directly speaking, how INDIRECT is your teaching?

“Boys and girls!”

“I’ll begin when you’re ready.”

“I’m busy.”

“It’s time to do your work.”

If you work with children, you probably have heard teachers or parents make similar comments. I know I’ve been guilty of it in the past! When I first began working with students with language disorders, I quickly realized I’d have to make a conscious effort to change the phrasing of my directions and requests. I learned during my training as a speech-language pathologist about how to help improve inferential language comprehension, but didn’t realize how much of our social and conversational speech is indirect until I began working.

I love learning about what’s relevant in the field of business and brain research and finding ways to apply that to education. As I listened to the Steven Pinker talk about indirect language as a window to social relations, it reminded me of how important it is that teachers, parents and other educators be aware of and make a conscious effort to not use too much indirect speech when giving directions to students. So much meaning can be missed for students with language based learning difficulties.

It’s in our nature to use indirect speech acts as a means to be perceived as polite. For example, in my early years as a speech-language pathologist, I unconsciously asked students, “Are you ready to work?” They often laughed and replied, “No.” I quickly learned to be more direct in my directions and requests. Instead of doing what’s in our nature to be polite, I learned to give direct and simple commands. Instead of asking, “Are you ready to work,” I’d tell them, “Now it’s time to work.”

So enjoy this informative and eye-opening video from RSA ANIMATE that illustrates a section of Steven Pinker’s TED talk “What Our Language Habits Reveal” and, as you get ready to start back school (Where did the summer go?) ask yourself, “How indirect is my teaching?”

Instead of saying:                            Say this instead:

“Boys and girls!”     ——–     “Sit down and stop talking.”

“I’ll begin when you’re ready.”  ——–  “Sit down, get your paper & pencil  and stop talking.”

“I’m busy.”    ——–   “I can’t talk to you right now.”

“It’s time to do your work.”  ——–  “Stop talking and begin working.”


*THERE IS a time for indirect language in education. Indirect language can be a great way to get students thinking for themselves during instruction and when teaching and building critical thinking skills. My point is to reduce indirect language when giving directions and in general consider when speaking to students, “How much of my language is indirect and which students are struggling to read between the lines?”

*ALSO, use indirect language to get a discussion going when working on building social skills. Have students role play different social situations and help students practice observing non-verbal language and tone of voice to determine the speaker’s true intentions and meaning.