I like to begin class with a Q/A. A Q/A is a question or an idea to be explored. It is also:
A way to get the students in their seats, on task and thinking. It gives me time to complete tasks necessary for each class-roll etc. It is also an activity that is a smooth transition into the day’s lesson or a review of previous material.
Here is an example:
Q/A Feeling Down? Pay Attention to Your Language. (As in what you say to yourself, to others and how you say it.)
In a group of 2 or 3, explain why this would be good advice?
Did you know your words can signal depression? Well, according to James W. Pennebaker (Professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin), they do. He should know; he studies how language relates to a person’s psychological state. Computer assisted language analysis for depression is his expertise. He believes that by tracking language, a depression episode can more quickly be identified. Depression has no biological markers like diabetes, cancer etc. Counselors, parents, teachers, friends can only rely on a person’s self-reported symptoms, or observation.
This year famous people committed suicide and we ask, “how did the closest people in their life not see this coming?” Maybe they didn’t understand the significance of what they were hearing.
As I read, the article, “The Words That Signal Depression”, I thought regular people, like you and me, do these things too. According to the article,
TEACHER NOTE: I call this I, ME and / or MY conversations. Teens do this because they are all about themselves. Adults do this because maybe they need attention and someone to be sympathetic and encouraging. I’ve been on the receiving end of these conversations? It never occurred to me that it was an indicator of depression. I’ve thought for some reason this person needs a friend to listen to them. I call it bloviating or a verbal vomiting — there is something inside of me that I have GOT to get out of me.
Dr. Pennebaker describes, healthy people “who are interested in another person will use the third person “he” or “she”. Someone closely focused on a relationship will use “we”. But if you are thinking about yourself — if you are more self-conscious or self-aware, as depressed people are — you will use the first-person singular ‘I” or “ME”. (How about insecure people or socially awkward people, or teenagers in our classes who would like to be a part of a give and take conversation?)
Teacher Note: Expectations are different than goals. Goals are thought about, understood and expressed (written down). I believe expectations are assumed, as in “He should have known better.” Whenever I get upset (particularly with myself), I know I just got sucked into an expectation I should not of had, and never communicated to myself much less to others.
I TRY to not have expectations (though they sneak up on me) simply because most of the time people don’t know what my expectations are. So, how can they meet them? People with expectations, are disappointed people who may think / say words that create feelings that may lead to regrettable actions. The great thing about not having expectations is you are almost always pleasantly surprised.
Words reveal thoughts. Our thoughts are the most important things we have because they lead to emotions. Therefore, we / our students need to learn to control our / their thoughts.Many times our thoughts become words.Those words matters because they shape our attitude and behavior toward ourselves and others.
After your students discuss the Q/A: If you are feeling down? Pay attention to your language, ask them what they can do when they or a friend is upset and talking negatively.
Here are some ideas:
The Words that Signal Depression by Elizabeth Bernstein
Wall Street Journal