Monday, September 12, 2011

What Doesn't Work: "Guys"

There are words that substitute teachers definitely shouldn't say. Most of them are four letters. The most atrocious, sexist, and wildly overused is the word GUYS.

Why it doesn't work:
Unless avoiding "guys" is within your active consciousness, you probably use this word far more than you think. Here's a scenario:

So you've greeted students at the door, engaged in casual conversation before class, written the schedule on the board, and now the bell rings and you need to get their attention. You stand up and say “Ok guys lets get started...”

You then introduce yourself, explain why you are filling in, and then move on to the assignment. “So what your teacher would like you guys to do is...”

As students begin working, you notice a group of students isn't on task. You go up to them individually. “Hey guys, could you please...”

On and on. Students will pick up on it. Using this one word, over and over again, establishes that you don't know anybody's name – and that you also have a very limited vocabulary. It makes you look inexperienced and amateurish, and opens you up for a host of issues.

How to fix it:
Use other words. It's difficult; the word “guys” has become such a staple to our daily language. But there are tons of them. Here are my suggestions:
  • Folks
  • Friends
  • People
  • Men, Gentlemen, Dudes, Boys
  • Women, Ladies, Dudettes, Girls
Other tips of advice:
  • Learn some student names before class begins. When you address a student by name, it shows them and everyone else in the class that you actually are relevant to them.
  • Find other ways to gain student attention. More of this in the future.
  • Whenever you are about to say “guys,” think of Sloth from The Goonies yelling "Hey You Guys!" This will probably make you reconsider your word choice.

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