Educators educating Educators

Jan 19

Reflective Responses

“I tried to teach in a way that I wasn’t regularly taught – with a soft spot for smart students who don’t quite fit, and a belief that all students need to be heard and cared for. ‘Nobody cares how much you know,’ John Wooden, the legendary University of California, Los Angeles basketball coach, reminded us, ‘until they know how much you care.’ To this day, I carry his words in my wallet.”

Jerry Murphy, Retired Dean of Harvard School of Education, Harvard faculty member and administrator from 1982 to 2009.

Reflective Responses

Quick thoughtful and sensitive relies that can end conflict and preserve everyone’s dignity


~ Wow, I had no idea you felt that way. Tell me more at a later time.

~ I’m sorry you feel that way.

~ I must have done something to bug you but now is not a good time to talk. Let’s us talk later.

~ Let me see if I understand you correctly. You are telling me ______________. Is that right?

~ I feel disrespected. Is that what you meant?

~ You are just not yourself today so I am going to let that slide now rather than get into a hassle about it.

~ Even you are ready to speak in an appropriate tone, I’ll be happy to listen.

~ I use those kinds of words when I am really upset about something. I’m sorry you feel upset right now.

~ You present an interesting opinion.

~ If I allowed you to do that, I’d showing no respect. I will respect you even when you show little respect for yourself.

~ I am concerned. If you do ______________. Trouble will follow: (state the consequences if you know what they are). You don’t need that.

~ You might be right about that.

~ Someday I will, but that doesn’t solve the problem, does it?

~ I don’t appreciate being talked to in that way.

~ The choice is yours, and you can change your mind if you want.

~ We need some time to look into this because I’d like to learn more about what you mean. Now is not a good time.

~ Your language is totally unacceptable. What is it that you really want to say?

~ I wish you weren’t so angry. After you calm down, I want to understand what is bothering you.

~ I must have done something to really hurt you. I’m sorry if that happened.

~ Even through I like to be liked, I’m here to teach you and not to be liked by you.

~ I am really concerned! It s very important I understand why you are so mad. Please tell me later when I can really listen.

~ Now is not a good time for me to tell you. I know it is hard to wait, thanks for hanging in there.

~ Let me see if I understand this correctly…

~ I guess you and I see this differently. Let’s try to find a solution after class.

~ When you are ready to talk rather than yell, I’ll be more than happy to listen to you.

~ Wow, you must be really mad to want to embarrass me like that in front of everyone. It makes me want to fight back, but then we’d never solve the problem.

~ I want to understand why you are so annoyed. But hitting and swearing doesn’t help. Let’s talk later so that I can really understand.

~ Believe it or not, you are not the only one who has ever thought that.

~ Later on, I hope you tell me exactly what is (stupid, dumb) about ______________ so we can fix it.

~ Not now but maybe some other time.

~ I forgive you for losing your temper. What can you do to not need forgiveness again?

~ Now is not a good time to deal with this. I’m available at ______________ (name times).


Allen N. Mendler. Just in Time: Powerful Strategies to Promote Positive Behavior. Bloomington, IN.



“If we can control the attention of the child, we solve the problems of education.” Maria Montessori

This month Ed Tip will examine how to improve students' learning by activating their attention.