Common Sayings in the Classroom

This post is a departure from the normal topics of my blog..a little lighter material with a call for audience participation.  I know that when I’m teaching, I find there are a few phrases I say more than others. Most revolve around assessment of learning and student cognition.  Below, I’ve listed and described the phrases I use most often. I would love for you to comment with a phrase or two that you find yourself repeating when instructing in your classroom.  I think the results here could be quite interesting and informative.

“If the test is the first time you think about/with this material, we’re both probably going to fail.”

“Don’t let the final assessment be the moment you find out you don’t understand the material.”

When discussing study/practice habits with my students, I constantly say this to convey that you have to put in effort to learn/remember.  Student intuition and habits usually dictate that they will either reread or highlight their notes and they believe that is effective studying.  The above sentences are my attempt to communicate to my students they should, prior to the assessment, use effective and efficient learning strategies (retrieval practice  and spaced practice) in order to assess their learning so they can focus attention on material they don’t understand.

“Tell me everything you know.”

I say this constantly when my students are working on open-ended questions.  Frequently, students become stuck or believe the don’t fully know how to answer the questions.  By asking students to brainstorm and tell me everything they know about the topic, often times they will prime memories of their initial learning of material and be able to more completely answer the questions.  

“Guessing and getting an answer correct does not mean you know the information.”

This one seems quite obvious to me, but I’m quite certain my students complete a quick review, see they earned full marks, and assume they know all of the material.  Occasionally, I will have my students look back at the questions and their answers to have them consider the answers they chose as a guess. Having them do this quick activity can alert them to information they thought they knew because of the pretty 100 on their paper, but in reality they don’t really know.  This assessment of learning can alert students to information they don’t really know and, hopefully, steer them in the right direction when it’s time to prepare for another assignment or assessment.

Certainly, there are other phrases I repeat from time to time…I guess I should ask my classes.  I’m sure they would love the chance to mimic me with my own words. Ok…so maybe I won’t ask them.  🙂

Now it’s your turn.  What phrases do you find yourself constantly repeating in your classroom?


18 thoughts on “Common Sayings in the Classroom

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  1. Mine might include, in response to ‘I don’t know’, I’m not asking you to know, I’m asking you to think. Eg if a student imagines you know 27 x 83 by heart.

    Also, in relation to homework, “you’re not doing it for me, you’re doing it for yourself”.

  2. As a Tutor, while studying along with small groups of Students, I often ask them: “Can you see in your mind what you are writing or the map mind you just draw?” “Or can you hear the voice of your thought wispering it?” “Can you do both things?” “Which one comes first?” – I learned to do so with Antoine de la Garanderie. – Ines

    1. Definitely… I constantly say, “Only use your brain” when students are completing an assignment.

  3. Two things that fit my teaching persona.

    “Don’t worry about looking foolish when you ask a question. The truth is that nobody cares about you enough to pay attention. You could die before next class. Nobody would notice, except that there’s more space to spread their books.”

    Before an exam: “Don’t worry if you mess this up. In a 100 years you’ll be dead, and the exam won’t matter. So look on the bright side!

    “Some more good news: I’ll die before you will!”

  4. In fourth grade, I tell them,

    “You might as well do a good job at this, we’re going to be here until 3 o’clock either way.”

  5. Common slogans Use it or you will lose it. Neuroplastic is Fantastic.
    Retrieval practice idea developed from text speak LOL (List Order Link) elaborated into DOL (Ditinguish Order Link), Compare Order Link etc depending on if you use Bloom or SOLO or other command term taxonomies
    OMG ( Order Master Generalise (now developing into teaching about concretness fading))

  6. When my students become frustrated with retrieval practice I say “would you rather feel frustrated now that you cannot remember or on a test”

    They always decide now is the better option. But it is so hard to feel like they are not getting it, the illusion of knowing is powerful

  7. I often say, “Show me what you know, not what you don’t know”. But my go-to comment is, “I can teach you, but I cannot learn for you. Only YOU can learn for you.”

  8. My first statement is always: Close all of your electronic devices now. You’re hear to listen to and interact with me. Further, taking notes with pen and paper leads to more and deeper learning [I then explain why]. Here are the handouts with extra space to take notes. If you can’t abide by this, there’s the door.

  9. “Knowing what you don’t know is powerful.”
    “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

  10. 1. Do great work for you.
    2. Make the class, your class.
    3. Smile when you enter and when you leave.
    4. Have a great day!
    5. Everyday is a choice to be better than the day before.

  11. Enjoyed this, Blake! I’m no longer in the classroom, but I spend a fair amount of time doing leadership development work with serving and aspiring leaders at all levels, so I’ve been thinking about this from that perspective. I realise one of the things I say OFTEN is: “If it’s not possible to do a conscientious and committed job and still have a life, then there’s something wrong with the job, not with you.”

  12. Project-based class…I frequently tell students their work is good, but it could be great. They work in their comfort zone, not their zone of proximal development

  13. “Read the directions carefully!” / “What are we getting ready to do right now?”
    God bless their little hearts, my students like to dive right in even if they don’t fully understanding what the task is about. We have to make sure we’re all on the same page before beginning something.

  14. “If you want to take the island, burn the boats.” -J. Caesar. I often add a “friggin’” between the and boats!

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