A Reminder: Why Language Matters

The Super Bowl. Everyone gathers around food, drink and game to cheer on a favorite team. Well, some do that. Others are watching the commercials- determining what they like and don’t like. Then there’s those that say, “stop interrupting my JT concert with the football game!” We all have different purposes for the reasons why we gather around the television to share a common experience with the Super Bowl yet our perspectives are different depending on our focus – our why.
This why transcends into everything we do. Why we do something matters. As Simon Sinek says, you must know your why before you can get into the what and how. Today, as I listened to Lucy Calkins, Natalie Louis, Celeste Larkey, and Shanna Schwartz at Teachers College Reading & Writing Project I was reminded how important the why is in the classroom. Natalie Louis shared “You should know why – always. You should never do anything in your teaching that you cannot answer why… otherwise how do you make choices in your teaching?” Natalie spoke from the heart. She spoke from experience – sharing the feedback she had received from Lucy Calkins. So why is the language we use in the classroom so important?
  • Our language has the power to influence.
  • Our language has the power to create identities.
  • Our language has the power to bring a community together.
  • Our language has the power to change our environment.
  • Our language has the power to defeat the odds.
  • Our language has the power to transform.
There are so many reasons why our language is important and why we have to choose our words carefully. Throughout the next six weeks, we will dig deeper into each of the above “whys” listed \to see how our words have power and purpose to transform our community.
So, as I finish my blog while watching the game at a local pub in New York, I hear, in unison, everyone harmoniously singing the lyrics of stand by me – a commercial that brought everyone to song. I’m reminded that song, that words, stick with us. The meaning that runs through what we sing brings us all together. It’s underlying why gives us hope as we know we have so many in our lives that stand by us. Knowing this, think about the following:
  • How are you that hope in someone else’s life?
  • How are you using your language to affect those around you?
  • How are you remembering that our words matter?


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