The Importance of Thank You
What do you do when a quiet student with low self-confidence finally raises their hand and answers a question you’ve asked the class … and they’re wrong? I answer them the exact way I do when a student becomes extremely angry and starts voicing their frustrations. I use two small words that make a big impact—thank you.
“Thank you” is my best fire extinguisher in the classroom. It’s the one phrase that can calm someone down, build someone back up and make them feel important. The importance of thank you is something that separates good teachers from great. Good teachers say thank you when they are validated—great teachers understand the importance of using it to validate someone else. It’s a minimal gesture that makes a huge difference.
When you say thank you, you are saying:
■ I heard you
■ I appreciate you
■ You are important enough for me to listen to you
When emotions run high, intelligence is low. When someone reacts with high emotion (like in a rage), saying thank you knocks them right off their game and causes them to not know how to respond. That’s why when I have a student who wants to tell me how the universe hates them, I respond, “Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me how you feel.” It immediately brings their emotional rage down a level. You can either play into it or say thank you.
When a student, any student really (not just the type in the example above) answers a question wrong, I say, “Thank you! You’re not quite there; does anyone else want to add to that?” Now instead of them feeling bad about their wrong answer, you’ve just validated them to make them feel appreciated for even trying.
Saying thank you creates a safe environment, it shows your students that you respect them and it adds to the value of your classroom culture. Do you have a fire you’re battling in class? Say thank you and watch it burn out. Don’t ever underestimate the power of an educator!