One Word that Can Make a Difference

The word ‘Ok’ is used to express agreement or acceptance – all right, right, right then, right you are, very well, yes, very good, agreed, okey-dokey, righto, righty-ho.

How can you use this small word to make a difference in your every day interactions with students?


1. Set aside some time to discuss and explain the origins of the word ‘Ok’.

2. Explain to students that the word ‘Ok’ is an expected and appropriate response in their classroom. Students will quickly understand and learn when to use the response. It will follow on when you use ok as a question. Ok?

Explain your reasons for introducing ‘Ok’.

When you say, ‘Ok’ you are telling me that you agree, are prepared to, and have made a commitment to follow through with  instructions, the required work and the expected behaviours.

Scenario – Student has chosen a spot to sit but they are being distracted and not working.

Teacher: Please get yourself sorted and choose an Optimal Work Environment. OK?  
Student: Ok.
 Teacher: Thank you (Note: Follow up a few minutes later by going to see the student to say, ‘Thanks for getting it sorted’. Leave a little thank you note, or provide written feedback on their work. Even just ruling a page, starting a sentence, doing a heading or getting a maths activity started is enough to provide that positive feedback. (Check the article on motivation). 

Eg 2. Teacher: Please don’t call out, we are using Hands Down techniques. Ok?
Student: Ok.
Teacher: Thank you.

Eg 3. Teacher: Please read and check the writing criteria yourself after you have completed your work. Ok?
         Students: Ok.
         Teacher: Great. Now before you return to your seat to begin come and tell me one of the criteria listed that must be included in your writing.  

Use the ‘questioning Ok?’ every time you want students to agree and accept your instructions. By using the word ‘Ok’ as a question students will soon learn that you are waiting for their return response, ‘Ok’

If students use a sarcastic, angry or annoyed voice when they respond say, ‘Please use  your real voice’ then stand and wait for the correct response. If this does not happen say, ‘ I am sorry you have chosen to fail but I will not give up on you‘. Leave them to calm down. Drop a note down with your instruction a few minutes later as you roam the room. Notes are powerful motivators. Always write a positive note rather than a demanding message. 

Ok is very easy to introduce and use in all year levels with every student. 
Ok is a non threatening word.
Ok is an easy and ‘friendly’ word to use.

Tip: Always use a light hearted and cheery voice when using the questioning Ok. Ok?

Tip: Get the students to make an Ok display message for the classroom. Refer to the display several times during a week to remind students of the purpose behind using the word Ok.