EducationWorld is pleased to present this professional development resource shared by Dr. Jane Bluestein, an expert in relationship-building, positive school climate and effective instruction.
In a tense situation, the wrong words can be like throwing gasoline on a fire. In contrast, “Magic Sentences” (or key phrases) are practical ways to use language to prevent, minimize or de-escalate conflicts with students. These statements represent a win-win approach to relationships with young people and can be equally effective in interactions with other adults.
For example, imagine a student is refusing a teacher's request. Saying, “Think of a solution that will work for both of us” validates the child's perspective and involves him/her in solving the problem. The student will be much more likely to respond to the request, since doing so will meet his/her needs (and address the reasons behind the initial refusal). Trust and respect are maintained, along with the teacher's authority.
For many more tips, read Dr. Bluestein's handout “Magic” Sentences: Prevent Conflict, Negotiate and Take Care of Yourself. Print it out and keep it handy the next time you need to choose your words carefully.
The handout is excerpted from The Win-Win Classroom (2008) by Jane Bluestein, Ph.D. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Also from Dr. Bluestein:
Is Your School Emotionally Safe?
Accommodating Student Sensory Differences
Tips for Positive Teacher-Parent Interaction
The Art of Setting Boundaries
The Beauty of Losing Control, Part 1
The Beauty of Losing Control, Part 2
Stressful Student Experiences: What Not to Do
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