People label others all the time. Labeling is a tool we use to help us grapple with difference and with our environment. Our labels can also influence what we see. The long-term consequences of labeling a child “smart” or “slow” can be profound. Labels that have to do with ability, class, race, or skill often shape the expectations of educators and can have lasting effects.
I realize that in order to see the type of teaching, learning, leadership, and support that I want to see in schools and across our district, I have to paint a portrait of what it looks like using expressive, asset-based language that builds upon the current strengths of employees and reinforces their existing foundation of knowledge and skill. Using clear, powerful, and uplifting language takes a great deal of practice and awareness, and doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me. Therefore, I spend a great deal of time reflecting about my word choice in order to improve.