Thursday, February 9, 2012

Banning the Word Can't

For as long as I can remember I've never really liked the word "CAN'T".  It stems back to my very first swim coach, who always called me out whenever I tried to say, "but I can't".  She wouldn't accept it from me.  She agreed that some of the things she wanted me to do would be challenging for me, but I was expected to give them a try.

A few weeks ago I officially banned the word CAN'T from my classroom as well.  I informed both my students and their parents.  Originally it was to stop one of my special needs students from constantly saying , "I can't" but really it applied to everyone.

Can't is such a negative word.  What it really means is there is no way it can be  done so why try.  How deflating!  The word goes against everything I am trying to teach my students.

This year my class is made up of several students that have been in Canada for six months or less.  Most of my students speak a language other than English in their homes, and for many learning to read and write is taking a lot of determination and dedication.  It isn't coming easy for them.  By banning the world can't I'm sticking true to what I believe is so important.  Everyone must give their best effort.

As a class we have acknowledged and accepted that we all learn at different rates.  While some of us may be good at drawing or singing or running others are good at reading or writing or math.  We all have something that we need to work extra hard to accomplish.  So what is the best for one student isn't the best for another student.  It is a concept I've worked on with my students from day one, and I continue to work on with them every day.  It is so important for them to do their very best for themselves and not for me, their parents, or their friends.  Doing your best is the right thing to do for yourself.

Banning the word can't hasn't meant that I don't acknowledge the challenges that my students are facing.  It's the complete opposite.  I'm much more aware of my students experiencing difficulty and they know they can seek me or their peers out for help when necessary.  Because my students are unable to  fall back on the old "I can't" they are becoming more aware of what is challenging  for them as well.  I hear a lot more of, "this is difficult for me but " or "I'll give it a try". I rarely hear the word can't.

Banning the word has also made me more aware of the language I'm using with my students when it comes to things I'd prefer them not to do. This little ban of mine has impacted everyone that works in my room, with me, or with my students. We will no longer accept the word can't.

Do you let your students (or staff) get away with saying that they can't do something?  Have you ever considered officially banning the word from your practice? I'm curious to hear.

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