Our words matter. What we say forms our character and our reputation with others. The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a lie. Words hurt. Words can also heal.
I was in a meeting yesterday as my principal reminded us that our students are listening to what we say, whether we think they are or not. She said that we need to choose our words wisely. I immediately reached into my bag and pulled out Word Shift by Joy Kirr and handed it to my assistant principal.
Joy also wrote Shift This, the 26th book in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line so I couldn’t wait to read Word Shift! With the feel of a dictionary, Joy shares words that need to be seriously reconsidered, many even eliminated, from our vocabulary. She gives us alternatives to use and her reasoning behind making these shifts in our word choice. Some of my favorites are:
Allow/Let/Permit –> Provide opportunities or Encourage
Give Up [Time] –> Invest
Have To –> Get to
Intervention . –> Next steps
Let It Go –> Soak it up
My –> Our
She also discusses practices that we need to reconsider such as behavior charts, homework, grading, assessments (that students can google the answer to), and again suggest alternatives for these practices.
Joy and I certainly see eye-to-eye on many of our philosophies and I was highlighting and writing “yaasss” beside many of these sections. Even if you grapple with some of these ideas, Joy lays it out in such a way that it makes sense how these practices or words could be harmful to our students.
For part of the implementation of Empower Our Girls by Lynmara Colon and Adam Welcome, I am focused on eliminating “guys” from my vocabulary as it is not inclusive of all students in my learning environment. I will continue this by intentionally saying “students” or “readers” when addressing a group of students. Joy gives us a list of labels that build up students and peers that I’m so excited to pull from when addressing others.
My implementation for Word Shift is to use the suggested phrases, sentences, and questions located at the end of the book purposefully this year. I love that Joy has us asking questions like, “What drives you,” “What is on your mind,” “What makes you unique,” “How can we make this more relevant to us,” etc.
My favorite quote from Joy’s second book:
“Many of these stressors are not something we can change. What we can change, however, is our focus… be in charge of our attitude.”
~Joy Kirr, Word Shift
This short book is packed with what makes Joy so awesome! Her positivity and genuine soul shines through the pages and I can’t help but imagine her class to be a place of acceptance, warmth, and love. What student wouldn’t be driven to learn that in environment? You can see a piece of Joy’s heart in a preview of the book here (scroll to the very bottom). Check out her sneak peek of the book below (or click here).
Finally, check out more of what Joy has to say by following her on Twitter at @JoyKirr and subscribing to her blog here. Check out the amazing resources in Joy’s LiveBinders here! Be sure to grab a copy of her book Word Shift, and go ahead and get a copy of Shift This while you’re at it! Both of these will move you to make intentional tweaks to your practice!