The Most Important Words In Education

What are the most important words in a school?

There are lots of things we do and say that have gravitas and make a difference. Here’s just a few of the most important words we might use:

1. The number one most important word….


If children don’t understand something then they are quick to throw in the towel and give up. But they need to know that they will get there and they are on their way. By saying YET helps them realise that learning is a journey and “success comes in cans, failure comes in can’ts”.

I don’t know… YET

I don’t understand… YET

I don’t get it… YET

I can’t do it… YET

I can’t work it out… YET

A classroom full of Yeti learners understand that they can’t just think that’s my limit, I’ll never get it. Positive yeti learners know that I can’t + oo = can too. 

2. The two most important words….

Thank you.

Politeness costs nothing and saying thank you makes a whopping difference across the school community.

3. The three most important words….

I don’t know.

If we have the honesty to say we don’t have all the answers and we simply don’t know then we communicate that we are lifelong learners. Learning is about knowing how to find out what you don’t know. Pretending to know when you don’t is old fashioned and dishonest.

4. The four most important words….

What do you think?

We are not the sage on the stage. We know stuff but not everything. Children have amazing ideas and we have to bring these ideas out and encourage them to make their thinking visible.

5. The five most important words….

How can I help you?

Children need to struggle by themselves and they need to get stuck and learn how to get unstuck. But they also need help and realise that learning is a team effort. They need to know that conquering learning obstacles is something done alone but also with support.

6. The six most important words….

I admit I got it wrong.

We have to come clean and admit to making a mistake when we have dropped a clanger. Again, this is about being honest and accountable.

By the way, the six most damaging words in education….”We’ve always done it this way!”

7. The seven most important words….

I’m not sure, what do you think?

See 4 above! It’s a Richard Branson favourite.

We could say it’s “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” (see 3 above).

Perhaps these seven words are one’s that we all need to say though: “How can I make the world better?”

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