Which are more powerful, words or actions?
I think they're different. If you're a business owner who is evaluating your employees, actions are greater than words. If you're a writer, the words hold more importance than your actions. If you're a husband learning to love your wife, they're different. They're equally important.
As I read this article by Larry Ferlazzo I had to recognize the possibility that words can be equally important because they are different. One of my pet peeves in education is the constantly evolving language. There used to be English as a Second Language. It became English for Speakers of Other Languages and English Language Learners and, slightly more obscure, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse learners. Sure, there's a reason for every change. But the practices of those teaching English don't necessarily change with the new terminology. Actions and words are often different.
I love to write and I am learning to love words. They carry power. Nevertheless, I prefer action to semantics. The article by Ferlazzo articulates well the problem I've often had with the test-obsessed education culture. It also helps me to continue my informal dissertation on what makes a good teacher and educator.
Simplifying the issue, I think a good teacher loves being with kids and is willing to do what it takes to make sure they learn. Curriculum, pedagogy, personality, age, and general styles matter less than the desire to be with kids and help them learn.
Bringing it back to the article, a good teacher cares more about the student than the student's test score. Here, though, we find a point where actions trump words. A teacher can attack the focus on testing all they want. That teacher can claim a focus on the students and a disdain for the test, but if their students are not improving on the tests, their care for the students' education is suspect. That is the deliniation that Ferlazzo provides which I appreciate so much. Tests matter but don't let that drive distract you from the student. Let that test inform your instruction. Oh the semantics of it all. The good teacher reads the change in wording, notes the change, and continues doing what they have been doing.