Do more of what you do best -- everyday -- at school
Among many other things, the Strengths In Education Conference stirred my desire to improve the language used in regard to my TRIO - Student Support Services program.
If you are unfamiliar with TRIO, it is a federally funded academic support program that works with students who qualify under one or more of the following: first generation college, lower household income, and documented disability.
There is a prevalent thought amongst the faculty at my community college that the TRIO program is for students who will not succeed without extensive intervention - a decidedly remedial frame of mind as opposed to a strengths perspective.
A few thoughts that came to mind at the conference include: rather than asking faculty to "refer" students to the program, we will ask them to "nominate" students; rather than refer to those who have enrolled as "TRIO participants", they will be "TRIO scholars"...
My hope (dream) is that there may be others on this Strengths.ning site who have also thought about this, and may have additional language choices and/or resources that they would be willing to share.
I will continue to post my thoughts... and look forward to benefitting from the wisdom of others in this regard.
Last night as I was surfing about I came across this nugget. It isn't exactly what I am looking for - more of a self-talk page, and I thought someone else might find it useful.
Thanks, Jim, for sharing this link. For some of us, making the changes necessitate constant vigilance.
Thanks for sharing this!
Language is the key. If you are able to get others saying it, you know that you have started to change the culture. I do this with many of my responsibilities, and quite often somewhat imperceptibly. I find that if you start by introducing new language in writing it is more believable - sort of like, "I saw it on the Internet so it has to be true."
The challenge, I think, is in using language that isn't so "over the top" that it isn't believable and instead becomes farcical - like "sanitation engineer" for "garbage man."
After writing all that, I do realize that there is another way to go about this. Sit down with stakeholders and directly confront the issue of language. Ask them if the language impacts their perception of these students. Share with them the data on hope, engagement and strengths. Ask them to help develop new terms which are positive and empowering. If you have an environment/relationship that is conducive for this, it is probably a faster route to change. If not, slow and steady may win the race.
Can you hear my Strategic theme screaming out?
We have been effective in re-naming our Trio participant/students as "TRiO Scholars". Not that all of them have been especially scholarly, but it sets the expectation... and is certainly a much more positive orientation that simply participant or student.
I like the language you are using. I will put those two phrases into my Trio Program this year. We are doing a pilot program this fall with using Strengths in our Freshman 1st Year class, College Skills. Any tips you have would be most appreciated. I am looking for very interactive activities to use in the classroom.