Without going into all of the back story, Wednesday evening found Dr. Reardon using one of his Aussie phrases that left me needing a point of clarification. Who knew that a sweaty nightcap was not a reference to a drink or, dare I say, something more? While we all enjoyed a good laugh, I found myself reflecting during my drive home about the language divide between our students and adults.
An English teacher at my school had a similar moment when she used “ish” to her students. She meant “there about” but the kids took it to mean “sh*t” as it does in urban slang. She could not understand why the class was in immediate upheaval, as the class was convinced that the teacher had just cursed.
While these are small examples of a broader scope, it does support why cultural competency training in schools is paramount. Since the day of the “ish”…a day which will live in infamy(ish)… I have been working with a small cadre of English teachers to create urban dictionaries and resource guides. They are working with their respective classes of students to capture what is unique to them, their world, their speak, their values. These will supplement our bigger summer training on cultural competency. The neatest part, I think, is that the kids are actually responsible for educating the teachers. Of course there are norms and expectations for what is appropriate, but it has already sparked some interesting dialogue in our building, and, better yet, changed some dated practices and approaches.