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"Is." "Is Not."

It must have been the Biography or History Channel that I could overhear from our back bedroom. The story was of a famous, professional boxer and he had just won a highly publicized, championship fight. In the interview with the boxer that had lost that fight, he vividly recalled his father coming up to him afterwards and yelling, “You ARE a loser!” This father’s cruel remark stood out especially to me because in one of my teaching methods classes we had been discussing theories of ways to accommodate and differentiate for students with specialized emotional, physical, and mental needs.

Most of the time the practice is more complex and tougher than it seems in theory. But I do always say that some theories can sound more unnerving than the actuality, because in practice you are teaching real people. These will be students with names and personalities that you have come to know and care about. I think the key theory when dealing with people, whether as a teacher, parent, or friend, is to not equate the person with the behavior, disability or challenge. That boxer was not “a loser.” But he had lost that boxing match. Our language is important because it is revealing our mental process.

Not But

You are a mess. You struggle with organization.

John is dyslexic. John has dyslexia and needs a calm environment when reading.

Sally is disabled. Sally uses a cane when walking.

May we avoid the being verbs “is” and "are" and use action or describing verbs with the important people in our lives. This includes our self-talk as well!


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