I recently took the time to read the book Letters to a Young Teacher, and I truly wish I had read this as I was entering the teaching profession shortly after graduation. There are so many gems of wisdom and encouragement and hope and inspiration sprinkled throughout this book. This week I’ll be sharing a few of these.
Jonathan talks often throughout this book of the joy in teaching small children, and ways not to stifle that inherent joy and wonderment with the world, but ways to encourage it and draw it out of children. One such example was in the use of language. He refers to young elementary students as being pushed to use the word “proficient” when referring to themselves and their level of mastery in a particular area. This just isn’t natural language for a small child to use. Instead, he encourages teachers to inspire students with fun (age-appropriate) words like “persnickety”. Persnickety is just fun to say. I remember teaching my ninth graders in Guatemala, and one of my dear students asking me what exactly the word “shenanigans” meant. She’d heard it or read it recently and knew it sounded delightful, but wanted to be sure just how to use it. Once I had explained to her its meaning, she was sure to drop it into conversation thereafter, with a twinkle in her eye as she did. Growing student’s vocabulary does not have to be grudge work. English has a vast and ample lexicon from which to choose fun, but precise words to describe everyday things.
What is your favorite word to use?