Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Power of Language

Today I had the privilege of attending a conference with Lester Laminack.  If you don't know him, you should.  He is an amazing teacher, person, writer and speaker.  This is the third time I have seen him speak in the last 4 years and I left once again so inspired.   I left there a different person with SO many ideas in my head, on my heart and on my tongue.  Luckily, two of my favorite teacher peeps went with me and we went to lunch and "broke it down" for almost 2 hours.   All he shared is more than I can coherently share in one post, so there will be more later.

One resounding theme of today was the power of language for children.  Young developing readers need to be surrounded by the rich language of literature and engaged in discussions with caring, attentive teachers and treated with kindness and respect simply because they breath in and out.  Readers need more than decoding strategies.  They need to know the language of literature....the rhythm, the phrasing, the vocabulary and so much more.   The teacher is the facilitator in this relationship with reader and text.   It is our job, as teachers, to do everything and anything we can do to  create a classroom that is the hinge between the language of the child's life and their school language.   We can't simply throw our hands up or dismiss them because "we tried and they aren't getting it....that they are just not receptive to the excellent instruction we are delivering."   We must continue to try to change "the how", to search for more literature, to build a deeper relationship with the child in order to reach them.   In all of this the child will at the very least learn that they matter and that they are loved and they are worth your time.  

Lester affirmed something all good teachers and parents know.  Kids just want to be loved and understood.   They want to know that they matter....that they are worth it.   It is so important that we as teachers give every ounce of effort to show these children that they matter and they are loved....simply because they breathe in and out.  Children go through so much in their families, with friends, with emotions....they need to know that their teacher is on their side.   There are so many things that are out of our control as teachers....but we can love and listen and inspire and converse and build relationships with students no matter how many challenges we have with money and curriculum and paper work.    One teacher can change a child's life.   Most of the time we spend one year with them.  It's a year of their life-of their short childhood-that they will never get back.   We can't afford to give them any less than our best.

Another blog I follow, A Teaching Life, posted this video of an 8th grade girl who is bullied.  As I watched her heartbreaking plea for help, I couldn't but think of how much a caring teacher(s) could help her.  Hopefully her teacher(s) know her well enough to know she needs help.  

Sorry for the long ramble.....there's so much more on my mind from today.   I'll write more soon.  For now, I'll leave you with Alye's powerful, heartbreaking language.
Thanks for sharing your powerful words with us today, Lester!

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