Language Matters

There are often multiple adults in my classroom – sometimes they are teachers and instructional assistants, other times they are volunteers or family members of students. As we transition from one activity to another I typically ask students to go to the carpet for us to meet together. The language I use might be, “If you aren’t working with a teacher, wrap up what you are doing and please come to the carpet.”

One day when a fabulous volunteer was working with one student, it occurred to me that this language didn’t really work. Instead, I said, “If you aren’t working with an adult, wrap up what you are doing and please come to the carpet.” Great. Problem solved.

I thought about it a bit more (because I tend to be a tad obsessive about these things) and realized this language is way better. Not because not every adult isn’t a teacher, because they all are, even if that isn’t their title. It’s way better language because everyone is a teacher. I know I haven’t conveyed that to my students as well as I want to, but at a minimum I can ensure the language I use doesn’t undermine the idea.

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