“… when we realized we just need to change our words (mindful speaking) to make our statements more accurate, we discovered it was magic . . .”
‘This is easy‘ are three words that have the power to bring learning to a dead stop! I have always disliked this statement, but never really considered making this a lesson until I read Tracy Zager’s book, Becoming the Math Teacher you Wish You’d Had (2017). In her book she writes about how she had a discussion with her class about this statement, asking how it made people feel and what they really meant when they said, “This is easy”.
So I decided to try this out for myself. I called a class meeting and we all sat around the outside of the carpet. I said, “When we start our math lesson I am often hearing students say, ‘This is easy,’ and I am curious to know how those words make you feel’. Just as in Zager’s class, my students started say:
- ‘It makes me feel bad, like I am not smart’
- ‘Like I am not good at math’
- ‘I stop trying’
So I told my students that I had just read a book about this statement, ‘This is easy’ and the teacher said that what this really means is:
- ‘I’ve seen this before’
- ‘I feel confident about this math’
- ‘I understand this math’
I wrote these statements up on chart paper and asked my students what they thought about these statements. Are these statements more accurate than, ‘This is easy’? How would it make our classmates feel to hear these statements instead of, ‘This is easy’?
My class began a process of awareness, reflecting on how our words impact our classmates. Everyone in our classroom takes great pride in being a ‘Mindful Classroom,’ so when we realized we just need to change our words (mindful speaking) to make our statements more accurate, we discovered it was magic! I never hear ‘This is easy’ anymore, yet I often hear, ‘I’ve seen this before’ or ‘I understand this math’. This is a ‘magical’ lesson! Try it for yourself.