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The Power of Talk

The Power of Talk
How Words Change Our Lives

March 2009 | 200 pages | Corwin
'The authors show that by thinking critically about how we interact with others and by making the necessary changes in our own behavior, leaders can model respectful and collaborative ways of addressing and responding to others and gradually change the norms of the whole community' - Gordon Wells, Professor of Education University of California, Santa Cruz

Unlock the power of language to promote equity in your school! This enlightening book shows how everyday speech can be a transforming force in today's schools, creating a more equitable environment for people of all backgrounds. Written by experts on language and diversity, this resource combines research-validated tools and real-world insights for addressing verbal communication issues within the classroom and schoolwide. Readers will find:

- Case studies and vignettes that show how language contributes to school change and shapes community relationships

- Thought-provoking exercises that strengthen language awareness and leadership skills

- Guidance on effectively coaching students and colleagues on equity issues and the use of appropriate language.

By using language to overcome barriers, foster collaboration, and promote respect, leaders can make a significant difference in the quality of life and work in schools.

List of Tables
List of Figures
About the Authors
Why? The Same Old Problem  
What? The Book’s Purpose  
How? Achieving the Purpose  
What Will You Get Out of This Book?  
Avoiding the Master’s Language Tools  
Overview of the Chapters  
Where and When Might the Book Be Used?  
1. The Power of Language: A Medium for Promoting Social Justice and Equity
In What Ways Is Language a Transformative Force in Society?  
What Are Educational Equity and Social Justice  
What Are Critical Discourse Analysis and Critical Language Awareness  
Conclusion and Summary of Key Points  
2. Becoming Effective in Using Critical Language Awareness
Noticing How Language Constructs Our Social World  
Relating the Trees to the Forest, and the Forest to the Trees  
Imagining Alternatives  
Teaching With Critical Language Awareness  
Using Memorable Examples, Metaphors, and Quotes  
Modeling, Teamwork, Inclusiveness, and Respect  
Conclusion and Summary of Key Points  
3. Avoiding Othering: Practicing Including
A Change Agent in Action  
How Is Othering Harmful?  
Digging Deeper Into Othering  
From Othering to Inclusion and Dialogue  
Conclusion and Summary of Key Points  
4. Disrupting Prejudice: A Communicative Approach
Communicative Model  
Developing a Data Culture  
Activity: Developing Language Skills for Disrupting Prejudice  
Conclusion and Summary of Key Points  
5. Exceptionalizing or Democratizing?
Exceptionalizing: How It Promotes Inequities  
The Importance of Context  
Cognitive Disequilibrium and Exceptionalizing  
The Context of the Interviews  
Recognizing Exceptionalizing Discourse  
Revising for a More Democratizing Discourse  
Activities for Developing Democratizing Language Skills  
Conclusion and Summary of Key Points  
6. Recognizing and Revising Stratifying Discourse
Key Concepts  
Recognizing and Revising Stratifying Discourse  
Activities for Developing Language Skills for Social Justice  
Conclusion and Summary of Key Points  
7. Contesting Labels
Contesting Labels  
Acronyms as Deep Abstractions  
Talk Strategies  
Redressing Labels Through Institutional Action  
Thoughtful Inaction  
Activity: Crowning With Labels  
Conclusion and Summary of Key Points  
8. Conclusion: The Power of Talk
Revisiting the Book's Objectives  
Using the Power of Talk for Social Justice  
A Final Thought  

"In a down-to-earth style, the authors explain how, by paying attention to how we talk, people can make a difference to the quality of life and work in schools. Drawing on real-life examples, they show that by thinking critically about how we habitually interact with others and by making the necessary changes in our own behavior, leaders can model respectful and collaborative ways of addressing and responding to others and gradually change the norms of the whole community."

Gordon Wells, Professor of Education
University of California, Santa Cruz

"The authors appeal to educators on both a professional and a personal level. Changing the discourse will not only improve school achievement for students, but will allow educators to more effectively express their beliefs about equitable and socially just education."

Karen L. Fernandez, English/Language Arts Coach and Teacher
Denver Center for International Studies, CO

"I like the specific strategies in each chapter for helping educators become aware of how language influences beliefs and assumptions. I also like the suggestions for how to develop skills for using language in a more equitable way."

Lynn A. Smolen, Professor
University of Akron

"I really liked the tone the authors used throughout—it was never negative or condescending. The authors did a good job of explaining the effects of language without preaching or looking down on those who might not be aware of the effects their language has on others."

Christine Landwehrle, Language Arts & Reading Teacher
Bedminster Township Public School, NJ

"This book will be very useful for teachers and teacher educators. The organization and accessibility of the concepts in this book are a major strength. The examples that are given are concrete and make concepts easy to understand."

Theresa Abodeeb-Gentile, Assistant Professor
University of Hartford

"This book needs to be in the hands of every educator and administrator. Too many times, the adults involved in education forget the power of the words they use."

David Callaway, Eight-Grade Language Arts Teacher
Rocky Heights Middle School, Highlands Ranch, CO

"Any chapter is enough for a year's worth of conversation, and occasionally a good argument—among students, staff, and families. It is an invitation to a dialogue with one's peers, but it also works as a dialogue with oneself. I found myself both arguing with the authors and shifting my own stance as I went. A must-read."

Deborah W. Meier, Educational Reformer, Writer, and Activist

"I couldn't stop reading this book! It masterfully pinpoints how language plays a critical, fundamental role in our daily lives as educators. Most important, it shows us how our deepest thoughts are manifested in language and how we can deal with them in our continued efforts to dismantle gender, racial, and class prejudice."

Susan Roberta Katz, Professor and Chair of International & Multicultural Education
University of San Francisco

Didn't get sufficent votes from
department members to warrant adoption, however, I reference it in my Intro to Inclusive Ed course and recommend that
students purchase it and add it to their professional library. It's one of the best books I've seen for
teaching in the language of the learner.

Dr Harry Dissinger
Administration and Leadership Program, Georgian Court University
September 2, 2011

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1 excerpt

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ISBN: 9781412956024
ISBN: 9781412956017

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