“Safe” Words – Wise Words Wednesday

Safe Words

“You need a ‘safe’ word for when someone is doing things or saying something that hurts your heart,” – Kim Borgmeyer

As all parents do, some friends of mine and I were discussing school and the upcoming school year. Some were concerned about the amount of “just kidding” that the kids were doing and how uncertain we were that most would consider their jibes or insults as “jokes.” In addition there were some comments made about when teachers “joke” and the words do not come across as “funny” to the students.

My friend Kim suggested that each classroom have a “safe” word. A word that any student could use to the teacher or other students to signify that what was being said or done was hurtful to them. It could be anything from “rotten apples” to “pink giraffe,” but whatever the word was it would always show that the other’s behavior was not okay.

I thought, “Man, that’s brilliant.” Using a “safe” word is a terrific way to signify the impact of the moment and keep everyone aware of the power of their words and actions.

Of course everyone would need to understand that the “safe” word should only be used in real instances of bullying or disrespect. It should not be a word or phrase to be used lightly or in joking situations and everyone would have to abide by the understanding that it really was a “safe” way to say, “Hey, that’s not okay.”

This reminded me of a time when I gave a nickname to a student. All of my yearbook students had nicknames. It was our tradition. The nickname given to this particular young man was awarded completely out of comradery and friendly ribbing but, as things sometimes do, the nickname evolved to become something that was negative in my student’s life. It was not until after the spring awards banquet that I learned he thought the nickname meant I didn’t think he was smart.

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Don’t Knock Jokes – Funny Friday

Don't Knock Jokes

Teaching the art of joke-telling is a healthy and happy way to develop communication skills.

Every week I share a joke with the 1st and 2nd graders at our school library.  The students keep a journal of the jokes and their answers. I also always invite the students to share jokes of their own.

The 2nd grade teacher recently thanked me for getting the kids excited about reading, in particular for their excitement about reading joke and riddle books. She said, “They just can’t get enough jokes or joke books. It’s fun to see them laugh and try to tell the jokes.” It is great to see my silly habit of sharing jokes is contagious.

When kids tell jokes, they are able to laugh at themselves and their message. Too often kids are hounded with seriousness. If we can use humor to educate and provide experience, we can inspire happier learners.

I have given speeches and had opportunities to be a public speaker for most of my life. When I started public speaking in 5th or 6th grade, I learned that the best trick for breaking the ice was to tell a joke first.

  • If you can tell a joke, and tell it well, you can speak to anyone.
  • If you can identify where to add inflection or pauses, you can communicate a message.
  • If you can identify where to add inflection or pauses, AND make your audience laugh when you want them to, you can communicate anything.

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