I'll begin by saying that my philosophy about this has changed in the 20 years since I began teaching. As an English major at university, I was a believer in using "The King's English" at school. In retrospect, I no doubt alienated some of my students in the early years and I regret the missed opportunities. Over the years, I've adopted much more fluid attitudes and practices about the way students express themselves and while formal essays in English class still need to maintain certain conventions, the opportunity for student voice in class has become a priority for me. I've used video, presentations, spoken word, meme creators and music and art where the focus is on the message rather than the grammar with considerable success. Ultimately, I'm still learning and growing in this area. Always looking for new ideas!
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This is such a fascinating question, Kate. Perhaps, like you, I feel like I'm just awakening to the fact that I am successful because the cultural development of the education system in which I have succeeded was built for someone just like me. As a teacher, I'm putting a much greater emphasis on process than product, and I'm much more active in the revision of the process to help the product be successful. I think I'm also spending more time on relationships and making sure that everything that comes out of my mouth is gentle and guiding, rather than judgmental.
Vilson discusses theories on “Language Diversity and Learning”, quoting education scholar Lisa Delpit, “Teachers need to support the language that students bring to school, provide them input from an additional code, and give them the opportunity to use the new code in a nonthreatening, real communicative context.” (37) Have you had the opportunity to apply this approach in your classroom practice? How did it look? What effect did it have? Would you consider it successful? Why or why not?