One of the things I’ve noticed about Educators is their propensity for long, multisyllable words. In order to get anything out of some of these workshops, a person really needs to take along a dictionary. I prefer my American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language; William Morris, Editor; Published by American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc. and Houghton Mifflin Company; copyright 1969. It has 1,550 pages so is a little large to slip into a pocket or purse but it does contain most of the words used in these workshops. If you bring a briefcase, it should fit nicely into that. There may not be room for your computer, however. On the other hand, if you are a good speller, you could use the computer to look up some of the words
I happened to be in a workshop with perhaps 25-30 people who were Highly Involved With The Future Of Our Children. They were people who tended to talk in capital letters using words of great profundity. (Little did they know who was lurking in their midst!) We were talking about trauma and how our teaching methods need to be adjusted so that we don’t further traumatize our students. They droned on and on about how we need to get grants to fund this program or to purchase those teaching aids. Possibly finding funding streams to hire professional counselors to talk to the students who were creating the most disruption in the classrooms.
I was trying to be discreet and subtle but those words don’t really describe me. It dawned on me that what we really needed – more than hiring more people to confuse the issue – was to talk with our students. Granted, I’ve only taught seven years but I’ve found that students (of all ages) have a good sense of what they are needing from their teachers in order to feel safe in the classroom.
When I was teaching fifth grade, Andrew* transferred in during the first part of the school year. He was a feisty, sassy kid who was sharp as a tack but didn’t come from a very stable home. I was talking with him at one point – probably after school – and I asked him if there was anything that I should be aware of about him. He told me that he was ok but it would be better if I didn’t touch him. I told him that was ok. I’d work hard to remember that but I might forget sometimes. He said that was ok because he knew I was trying. We got along pretty well while he was in my class.
One afternoon, my class was moving to another part of the building and I was walking with the school principal when Andrew started to veer off to one side. Before I could say anything to him, the principal grabbed Andrew by the arm. Without even thinking, Andrew took the pencil from behind his ear and stabbed her. Andrew left my class soon after that.
I started taking about this incident to the people in the workshop but I don’t think they heard what I was saying. So I brought out the big guns. I told them that we need to start talking with people. I think the culture has to change and we can’t change culture unless we talk about the problems we have!
I told them it was just like hemorrhoids! (There was a silent gasp from the attendees! I certainly got their attention!) I said that a lot of people have hemorrhoids but, until we actually talk about them, many people won’t know that there can be relief from them! At this point, many people were smiling and agreeing with me. I don’t know if the pompous windbags understood my meaning but that’s ok.
We had a short dialogue at my table. We discussed the use of appropriate language but I think that most of the people where I was sitting knew that it was a fruitless discussion!
*Andrew wasn’t his real name. I used a different name so that I would be less likely to be sued. I liked this kid. He had great potential!