Like many of my Weality Wednesday posts, this will be quick and straight to the point. My aim of this post is that you take away just how important our words can be on our actions. Not only does our language tell people how we think, but it has so much power over our student's experiences.
Often, I write about actions over words- which is super important. If our actions do not match our words, then we have simply changed the meaning of our words. Think about how many people tell us one thing, but go off and do another- without even blinking an eye. We are probably all guilty of it!
HOWEVER our language, how we think about things/ how we categorize things/ how we communicate about the world we see, also shapes our students’ perceptions. When we start telling people things enough times, those words start to shape how we (and possibly others) think about things.
I have been working with a teacher on building an accessible classroom since mid-August. We are not doing anything fancy, just taking what she has and shaping the room into a space that works for all her students. The goal is to not spend any money, just using what is in the space and repurposing it. The challenge is getting this teacher to flip her language from closed & limiting words ('the student can't do....., this student always does......and this student can't......') to open and inclusive words ('this student can...., this kiddo is awesome at......and so-and-so is able to......'). Literally, the classroom opened up in accessibility once she was able to start flipping her words from closed language to open language. The barrier for many of her students and for building a more inclusive learning space was the teacher's language. Her language caused her to think about what her students could not do instead of thinking about what her students could do. When we think about all the amazing things our students can do, it is much easier to build an environment that fosters growth.
A little thought changing challenge I have for all of you is to flip the way you think about who the kiddos might be. Rather than thinking about students (or adults or whomever) in groups or as labels, think of kiddos as kiddos (or people as people) who may or may not need additional support with their learning, work, or lifestyle! This small change will allow you to start to see the individual before anything else.