Thursday, September 20, 2012

Best Words - With a Little Sugar


Renee LaTulippe at No Water River is our wonderful host today on Poetry Friday.  She is extra sweet today because she is offering a candy bowl of treats, both from her own tasty words and from others who are joining her party.  Come join her.
 I brought some candy to share at your party, Renee!

Since Renee has shared the list of the Cybils’ Poetry Judges, I won’t repeat the list, but want to say I’m thrilled to be a part of this group, and looking forward to reading some of the best poetry that will arrive in the new year from the first round judges.  I know I'll learn a lot from my group members!

My poetry becomes mixed fare as I write.  It’s a goulash of school, home and family as I reflect upon the events of my life.  Lately I’ve been reading a book titled Choice Words, by Peter H. Johnston who offers strong arguments and numerous examples of how our words as teachers affect students’ growth.  As I read, I imagine my own scenarios throughout my teaching, wondering when and if I used the best words, in the best order.  If that sounds familiar, it’s because it's a definition of poetry by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  And so I take that definition this time to apply to teacher talk instead of poetry, learning from another educator about those ‘best words’. 
  
                            Best Words

Teaching becomes my duality
if harmful practice becomes reality.
A face that becomes inscrutable because
of words (immutable by power) said,
is a soul who’s hurt deep inside
yet I mayn’t know which comments to hide.
If there is any way to lie
and still nudge others on to try
I’d oft prefer that words could bend
and save the relationship I tend.
                                
photo credit: ginparis2002 via photo pin cc

27 comments:

  1. Oh, Linda. You live by your poem. Your words tend relationships so carefully, so lovingly. CHOICE WORDS is one powerful book, one I wish would be written for parents too. I'm reading his new one, and I am considering passing this one to my daughter - almost 14 - who is interested in language! Many congrats on being a Cybils judge. You will be wonderful, and the committee is fortunate to have you! Happy PF! a.

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    1. I do have Opening Minds, but it will have to wait till I finish some others. I know it'll be good, though. Glad to hear you like Choice Words. I have loved every page. I'll be interested in what your daughter thinks. And thanks for the congrats-I am excited.

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  2. Hi Linda, there is so much here in your poem to mull over as words do have the power to wound and to heal - perhaps even more than physical blows, as they leave dark smudges and imprints on one's soul. I just know that you would always find the best words that will bring the greatest comfort and reminder of home. :)

    And yeah, congratulations on being a Cybils Judge! It IS such a thrill, isn't it? Your panel is lucky to have you in their team. :)

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    1. I agree, as you can see from my poem, Myra. Care taken is what it's all about. Thank you, & yes, I am thrilled & looking forward to following all the process from others too. Congrats to you, too.

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  3. Love this poem, Linda. Words have such power and it;s so important to choose which ones we use carefully. My favorite line is "I’d oft prefer that words could bend..." If only we could say what we want , yet not let the words hurt....hmmm

    Congrats on being a Cybils judge, if I didn't tell you that before. You will be fabulous!

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    1. Thank you, Deb. How can we push in such a way that helps instead of hurts? There lies the question always. The Choice Words book is illuminating!

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  4. I can imagine it is very hard to always say the right thing as a teacher. And they probably quote you too. Great poem!

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    1. Yes, they do quote and remember! Thanks, Catherine.

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  5. Thanks for this post, Linda (and for the extra chocolate!). You are such a devoted teacher. I'll keep this book in mind to recommend to my daughter, a teacher-in-training. And congrats on being a Cybils judge!

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    1. I imagine your daughter will love the support it gives. Thank you Robyn! And always good to have chocolate.

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  6. Your poem really strikes me because I have been in the position of holding back my honest opinion to my son when he is going on about his high expectations for the coming weeks... dreams I doubt will become a reality. There is no sense in me busting his bubble just yet so I hold my tongue... for the sake of the relationship. Thanks for sharing this today!

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    1. Wow-Andi-biting lips is often a best thing, for parents, teachers, well, just everyone I guess. But it isn't always easy. How nice to hear this from you.

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  7. Yes, it's quite a challenge, often a dilemma, over whether to speak the truth or not, and so often what you say with the best of intentions can be misconstrued. Everyone is sensitive, but kids are especially impressionable. Quite a responsibility for any teacher. My nephew's 5th grade teacher spewed forth damaging words all the time. I imagine he's internalized a lot of it. Most teachers aren't like that, of course -- but a few are out there.

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    1. It's just important to use those right words, as best one can. Thanks, Jama

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  8. Oh I struggle with this issue too! Love that you've put it in a poem, and am thrilled your lovely sensibilities will be put to such good use on the Cybils committee. Keep your goulash coming, Linda. It's delicious.

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    1. Thanks Irene. It will be fun on the Cybils for sure.

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  9. I love your last two lines:

    "I’d oft prefer that words could bend
    and save the relationship I tend."

    ...so true! Although as has been said above and I would echo from my experience: your words are extravagant in relationship tending! Thank you!

    Congratulations on being chosen a Cybils judge. So pleased for you.

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    1. Thank you Violet. It was a poem that was inspired from this book & from my experience of choosing the right words for any given student.

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  10. Choice Words sounds like a fascinating book, especially for teachers. We can never know how the words we use will affect students, what they will remember. It's a huge responsibility.

    Thanks for the recommendation!

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    1. It is a great book, & I've enjoyed it very much. Thanks, Laura.

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  11. Wonderful post and poem, Linda. Sometimes I stuck my foot in it as a teacher, but tried to keep vigilant about my words and the effects they might have. And I'm still trying to stay aware now that I'm a mom! Thanks for this important reminder.

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    1. Thanks Renee. We all do try, I know. Thanks for the wonderful hosting!

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  12. I love this poem Linda. Words are so tricky. Often the words I fret over are forgotten and something I did not notice is misconstrued and taken to heart. Humility and not giving up are the most helpful, when I can manage that! I enjoyed reading Choice Words and would love to have that as a resource around the school to go back to every once in a while. Congrats on Cybils! They are so lucky to have you!

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    1. I finally finished the book, Katie. I will bring it in to you. Thanks!

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  13. Love this poem, Linda! When I critique, it's always a fine line between harsh reality and encouragement. Even though I'm not teaching in a classroom, I feel that same teaching struggle as when I was an 8th-grade teacher. I never want to lie to a writer about his or her work. But in being honest, I always try to choose the words that are going to help the writer move forward instead of give up, discouraged. Thank you for putting this struggle into such beautiful form.

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    1. PS Have fun with the CYBILS! It's a great experience!

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    2. Thanks for all Laura! I'm glad to hear it touched your life now too, & brought back that poignant time with students. It is a challenge!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!