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Jeff Bradbury

Should We Be Thinking About How We Speak To Our Students … And Each Other?

Mike Anderson: ASCD Author

In this episode of the TeacherCast Podcast, Jeff sits down with ASCD Author Mike Anderson to discuss his new book What We Say and How We Say It Matter: Teacher Talk that Improves Student Learning and Behavior.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • What is the importance of the language a teacher uses in the classroom?
  • What first made you aware of the importance of teacher talk?
  • What are some common examples of how teachers end up talking in ways that don’t align with their good goals for students?
  • How can negative teacher talk affect students?
  • What are the benefits of positive teacher talk?
  • What steps can teachers take to improve the way they talk in the classroom?
  • What should a teacher do if they have an idea for a book?

About Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson has been an educator for more than 25 years. An elementary school teacher for 15 years, he has also taught preschool and university graduate level classes. He spent many years as a presenter, consultant, author, and developer for Northeast Foundation for Children, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping create safe, joyful, and challenging classrooms and schools. In 2004 Anderson received a national Milken Educator Award, and in 2005 he was a finalist for New Hampshire Teacher of the Year. Now, as an education consultant, Anderson works with schools in rural, urban, and suburban settings. He is the author of many books about great teaching and learning, including What We Say and How We Say It Matter: Teacher Talk that Improves Student Learning and Behavior (ASCD, 2019), The Well-Balanced Teacher (ASCD, 2010) and Learning to Choose, Choosing to Learn (ASCD, 2016).

Links of Interest

About the Book

We all want our students to feel safe, collaborate well with others, feel ownership for their learning, and be joyfully engaged in their work. Nevertheless, many teachers end up using language patterns that undermine these goals. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?


  • We want students to take responsibility for their learning, yet we use language that implies teacher ownership.
  • We want to build positive relationships with students, yet we use sarcasm when we get frustrated.
  • We want students to think learning is fun, yet we sometimes make comments that suggest the opposite.
  • We want students to exhibit good behavior because it's the right thing to do, yet we rely on threats and bribes, which implies students don’t naturally want to be good.


What teachers say to students—when they praise or discipline, give directions or ask questions, and introduce concepts or share stories—affects student learning and behavior.

A slight change in intonation can also dramatically change how language feels for students. In What We Say and How We Say It Matter, Mike Anderson digs into the nuances of language in the classroom. This book's many examples will help teachers examine their language habits and intentionally improve their classroom practice so their language matches and supports their goals.

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About the author, Jeffrey

Jeff Bradbury, creator of TeacherCast, and father of the famous @EduTriplets is the Coordinator of Instructional Technology at Westwood Regional School District. Thanks for checking out TeacherCast today. Please take a moment to find me on all of my Social Media channels!