Catchphrases Become Useful Reminders for BSM Teachers


Ceci Cronin

A framed letter gifted to science teacher, Mr. Peterson by a former student displaying his chosen catchphrase in his classroom.

Ceci Cronin, Staff Writer

As students we often need constant reminders to nudge us in the right direction so many teachers will use catchphrases to deliver this reminder or nudge. At Benilde-St. Margaret’s many teachers utilize their catchphrases to give a purpose behind their words. Two teachers who have heavily learned to integrate their catchphrases into their classroom are Science teacher Mark Peterson and French teacher Frederique Toft.

Catchphrases can be inspired by many things. Friends, mentors, or even specific ideas can all be the basis behind someone’s signature saying. Peterson’s signature phrase – “deadlines are closer than they appear” – was inspired by a former colleague and struck him as a phrase that, if used in his classroom, could help make a difference. “The origin of my catchphrase came from a former colleague that had a poster on his podium at the front of his classroom. That’s the business[origin] of ‘deadlines are closer than they appear’,” Peterson said.

Each teacher uses their catchphrase for a different purpose. For Mr. Peterson’s Biomed courses which are primarily independently led he needs a catchphrase that reminds students to stay on top of their work. “It fits perfectly for what we have to do in class … It’s just a reminder. But it creates a little bit of anxiety and I think that a little bit of anxiety is important to make sure that people are getting their work done,” Peterson said.

While this phrase serves its function very well for Peterson’s classes, Toft has developed a different phrase over time that helps students better understand French culture: “think different, not weird.”

French culture is constantly integrated into Madame Toft’s French class in order to help students better understand the language as a whole. “In the context of my class, we often talk about culture. So we talk about the language itself, but words all work together. So we also talk about the culture of French speaking countries and those cultures can be very different from our own here in the US,” Toft said.

Sometimes students have a confused first reaction to the content she is teaching because it is very different from our own culture and our stereotypical way of doing things. She’s developed her catchphrase in order to counter this reaction by putting things in a different perspective. “That shift[different not weird] allows you to be more curious and learn more and understand that you are who you are because of where you have been, so, I think it’s important that you don’t judge, instead you observe, you reflect on something and you learn from it,” Toft said.

Every teacher has a different method to teach their class and this often results in a catchphrase to help them reinforce this method. At Benilde-St. Margaret’s you should be able to find a catchphrase used by all teachers in their classrooms to help them as they teach their students.