Monday, September 10, 2018

Addressing A Group

My first week of school for the 2018-19 school year went smoothly. I only encountered four criers on the first day (all in the same class, but thankfully all calmed down by the end of the first period). Returning staff and students seemed happy to be back. New staff and students adjusted well to our school so far. The idea or issue (other than how I'll try and maintain this new level of tidiness I've started in the library and in my garage) that's been rattling around in my head is tangentially related to school. It began with my family and erupted with a tweet.
I asked this question online and didn't expect the avalanche of replies and interest. (I know that compared to the thousands of likes and replies others get on Twitter, it seems like small potatoes, but for me, this topic generated a lot of responses.

*We deviate from the original topic of this blog post for an important tangent.*

A bit of an unexpected technical challenge here while composing this blog post - I wanted to include every single person that took the time to answer. Usually with my blog, it's just a simple case of "embed tweet" but as of September 8, 2018 at 9:34 pm, there were 29 replies, and that didn't count the ones that stemmed from the follow-up emails. Spooler looked possible but I didn't know which tweet would count as the last tweet in the thread (it works by "unspooling" the twitter thread from the last to the first). I read up on Spooler and it said that it would only connect tweets by the original writer, so that won't work. I tried ThreadReaderApp but it wasn't that successful because all the replies didn't connect to each other, just to the original tweet. Storify is dead now and I read that Wakelet was a good alternative, but I tried it and it wasn't doing what I wanted it to, plus it was a little grabby in terms of taking permissions. I will have to settle with an old-fashioned copy and pasting of just a few of the tweets.

*Now we return to your regularly scheduled blog post topic*

Big thanks to EVERYONE who took the time to reply. I got responses to the original tweet from

and I received subsequent responses from

Apologies to anyone who responded to this topic after I composed and revised this blog post who did not receive a mention. Mea culpa.

To complicate things, I neglected to mention in my initial tweet that I wasn't searching for ways to address a class of students, but the members of my own immediate family! I wrote down all the suggestions that people had offered (at that point in time) and then, a day after I published the original tweet, I shared some of the reactions my family had to the various ideas.

I've realized that there is no one perfect or mutually agreed upon answer to this question. Below are just a few of the tweets that explained why a particular term does or doesn't work for some. The fascinating thing is that there are very valid arguments for and against the same words. For instance, some of the most popular recommendations were "friends" and "y'all", but there were still some eloquent objections. (If I had time, I would have tallied all the votes for all the words mentioned by people.)

(The last tweet was in response to someone who has their Twitter account locked on private, and who mentioned that "the occasional 'guys' still slips out".)

 My family said they'd prefer I use the term "peeps" (So, some of my commonly uttered phrases directed at the group of them will now sound more like, "What are you peeps planning to do for the rest of the evening?" or "I love you peeps so much!") I wonder, if I brought this up with my students, what term they would recommend or choose. Now that I've been hyper-aware of my choice of words, I've noticed that the most popular way to address a group at school by other educators is "you guys", followed by "boys and girls" if the students are in a primary grade. There is no perfect alternative, but some thought-provoking reasons for using one term over another. Food for thought.

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