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Is there a word or a phrase you use (or overuse) all the time, and are seemingly unable to get rid of? If not, what’s the one that drives you crazy when others use it?

“You know”, is the one I hate the most and it’s used so frequently. When I was probably a pre-teen, I over-used the word “like”, and my grandfather broke me of the habit by persistently saying by repeating it every time I said it. It was almost hard to talk for a while because I found I had to stop a lot because I was in danger of saying “like”. I probably threw in a few “you knows” too. “Swimming in a lake, is like, you know, going to the beach, but, like, there are not waves, you know?”

I have a bad habit of not finishing sentences. I get most of the way through a sentence and, I guess, realize I’ve said enough, and don’t finish off the thought. I’m aware of it and I’m trying to correct it — make myself finish sentences.

“You know” is probably the most commonly overused phrase. I suspect it comes from a lack of self-confidence when someone’s answering a question or presenting information. I’ve seen students do it a lot when they’re talking in front of the class. They’re so self-conscious and don’t want to be wrong, or show their anxiety, that instead of just stopping a second and collecting their thoughts, they insert a “you know” while their mind catches up.

Talking in front of people is something many people fear. As a retired school teacher, I think it’s a good idea to have kids present in front of classes or small groups as much as possible to make them comfortable with it, and to raise their self-confidence. I’ve notice that in schools where kids have this opportunity, they get better at it. It also builds leadership characteristics, and it helps them to form ideas more concisely.

One thing I’ve seen other teachers do, and have tried myself, is to have students anonymously comment on oral presentations by other students. The form is simple, but asks a few questions, and so it’s a good time to mentions things like clarity of speech, how well ideas were expressed, how interesting the presentation was, and of course, things they liked. Kids take the “criticisms” better from others, and when it’s anonymous and respectful, it can be helpful.

Speaking in front of others rarely bothers me, but I remember when I was doing student teaching, I got nervous when I first started to lead lessons in class. Students are a hard audience, especially when the teacher is supposed to be the “expert” and have all the answers. They’re used to be entertained, too, so teachers are wise to be animated or a bit theatrical to hold kids’ interest. Humor helps, too!