It has been long established that children perform better in a learning environment with a strong and positive ethos. Some would argue that this ethos helps learners develop a growth mindset (Dweck, 2007). Therefore, if practitioners facilitate a supportive and strong ethos it is important to inquire into the most effective methods that practitioners can adopt so they can create a nurturing classroom environment, and as a result, afford learners the opportunity to begin, or continue to develop a growth mindset. Creating this positive classroom environment by using positive language is a prerequisite for effective teaching and learning as learners will feel more motivated to engage with classroom life (Conroy et al, 2009). Further, using positive language in the classroom and thus establishing positive relationships with the learners in your class is of high importance to Scottish teachers. The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) which is the regulatory body for education in Scotland. Standard 3.1.2, which makes up part of the professional suite of standards which Scottish teachers must demonstrate they fulfil, states that all teachers must “promote and maintain positive relationships” (GTCS, 2012:13). Therefore, if teachers are to form positive relationships with their learners in an attempt to create nurturing, safe and inclusive classrooms, it is important to establish what happens when positive language is used consistently by teachers.
This is a small scale enquiry with the aim of determining what happens when positive language is used in the classroom. It is important to note that this enquiry does not intend to measure correct answers and responses from learners but instead will focus on what happens to:
- Pupil engagement during literacy when I use positive language in the classroom.
- Pupil self-esteem during literacy when I use positive language in the classroom.