Chapter 1

The Language of Influence in Teaching

            In Chapter one of Johnston’s text, Opening Minds, he begins with a statement that shows the reader how important our language is and how it affects others.  The underlining question is posed: does the language of our teachers affect the success of an individual student?

During the reading, I began to question a couple of things.  I wasn’t quite sure how to approach children and their dialects.  The book speaks about how talk is the central tool of their trade, but wouldn’t this mean their environment plays a bigger part than I would in their life and success?

Once I asked myself this question, I was able to reflect on the bigger picture.  Although students go home to a different environment, we still set the tone for their “professional and educational” life.  I can relate this to one of the videos we watched in class where the teacher had the students translate their home language to the correct school language.  This was a neat way to incorporate their “way of trade” and doing things into proper terms and language.

“When you figure something out for yourself, there is a certain thrill in the figuring” is one of the main reasons that I teach.  This profound statement plays a part in my practice in two separate ways.  First, when I figure something out I get motivated and excited with my findings.  This sparks a sense of passion within me, a passion I want my children to feel.  Overlapping into the classroom, the facial reaction of a child upon realization is a momentous occasion.  I thrive off that moment a child figures something out for the first time, because I then know my teaching was not pointless.

Establishing effective language is very important to the child’s success because it affects the child’s psychology disciplines.  To summarize the chapter, to be a great teacher you must be meaningful, explicit, active, and use your words wisely.  Johnston’s books go hand in hand, emphasizing the importance of speech within the classroom.  He has continued to break the subjects down bit by bit, making it easier for me to better understand.

by Keeley