Second Opinions

Another interesting day of meetings and digging up materials for the first few days of class. I’m still a little perplexed about how I plan to integrate my vision of ELA and what the students are going to bring to the table. I can’t really know until I meet them and figure it out together, but I am a creature of habit and anticipation.

As frazzled as I was earlier in the day, I found myself soothed by one point John Clarke made today. “Language is a bond.” He delighted us with examples of tribes speaking Swahili or Star Wars reenactments bringing people together. However, I couldn’t get this thought out of my head. How language can be a gap closer. I remember subbing a few months ago and making sure that I used phrases like “pwn’d” or applauding a few “epic fails”. Just those few turns of phrase allowed me to connect with some students that usually turn subs into mush. I never knew it then, but I was using language as bond to help me deal with classroom management.

However, now that I think about it, I haven’t been exploiting this opportunity to its full potential. As ELA teachers, many of us have probably been squashing all the bad grammar and jargon that our kids bring into the classroom. I’m sure that many people find the guy who goes around saying “Whom, not Who” or “You and I, not You and Me.” annoying, but imagine the mindset of the student, who is engaged with your class, and blurts out “OMG” at an a-ha! moment, but as teachers, we squelch that kind of remark as not proper English. Well, it may not be proper English, but isn’t it communication? Aren’t we in the business of teaching kids how to filter and communicate? Yet, many of us don’t take the opportunity to find out what a kid means by “double hash-tag winning.”

If I plan on truly connecting with my students this term, I will have to learn as much about English in their context if I want more hope in their understanding English the way I see it or how we can interpret it collaboratively.


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