One of the easiest ways to create separation between yourself and your students is to be sarcastic. I love this blog post on sarcasm.
Your students who are already feeling awkward don’t need to have their internal monologues co-signed by careless comments about their disorganization or lack of preparation. Even if it’s done privately, it still hurts. The larger the stage, the greater the hurt. Nothing in the definition of the word…or its’ synonyms is something that should be associated with your practice as you create relationship with your students.
No matter how irritated you are with your student, a harshly worded critique will be remembered for a very long time. I still remember my sixth grade teacher telling me that I cried ‘crocodile tears’. That was a zillion years ago! I shouldn’t remember…and I really shouldn’t care…but I do. Sometimes, what you would say in a moment of anger…you wouldn’t say if you’d given yourself just a bit more think time. Don’t be afraid to tell a student that you’re so disappointed and you just can’t talk to them right now. Tell them that you’ll get back to them when you can say what you need to say in the right way.
Give specific verbal praise.
‘Good job’ is an easy quick way to affirm students, but…it’s not the BEST way to affirm. Consider sharing specific verbal praise that relates to who your students ARE rather than what they do. For some students, sitting quietly may be easy. For others, it COSTS them something to give that to you for 15 minutes. That student needs your verbal praise much more because they probably don’t hear that they have great stamina…or that they really persevered through that math. They are most likely more familiar with criticism of their lack of self control.
Try using a character based incentive program.