DEMYSTIFYING EDUCATION JARGON, FOR TEACHERS
Quiz for teachers: how many of the following educational terms do you recognize?
- Ability Grouping
- Backward Design
- Critical Thinking
- Growth Mindset
- Project-Based Learning
- Standards-Based Grading
Definitions are at the end of this post. But even if every phrase looked familiar, don’t get smug until you answer this question:
If a parent asked what on earth was “scaffolding” or “standards-based grading,” how comprehensible would your answer be to someone whose understanding of education was limited to their own experience as a student, experience that took place three decades ago?
Content marketers and other businesspeople have a catchphrase, “jettison the jargon.” Which means, write for the lay reader, not for a colleague who actually understands what ANED stands for or what additive manufacturing does. If you, the teacher, found yourself staring blankly at that last clause, you’ve felt something of what many parents go through trying to comprehend the goals teachers, school boards, and test-making politicians are pushing for their children’s education.
For the sake of rapport and mutual understanding, make sure you aren’t speaking to your students’ parents in “Educational Jargon.” Stick to the common language.
Quick Hints on Clear Communication
Answers to Quiz
- Ability Grouping: Dividing classes into learning groups according to student abilities; curricula is then adjusted for each group’s learning needs.
- Backward Design: Beginning with the end in mind, or using pre-set educational goals as guidelines for creating curricula.
- Critical Thinking: The skill of analyzing a situation objectively (not “critically” in the negative sense) and pinpointing the best action to take. Emphasizes creativity and problem-solving.
- Growth Mindset: A way of thinking that sees life as a series of learning and development experiences (reaching far beyond school years) and that welcomes new challenges. The opposite is fixed mindset, a self-limiting attitude that treats life as an endless to-do list of tasks that are predetermined to be achievable.
- Project-Based Learning: Learning by doing; participating in projects that build creativity and thinking skills. (The opposite is input-based learning, which focuses on study and memorization.)
- Rigor: Designing class material with a focus on maximizing learning and growth opportunities for every student. Emphasizes individual needs and challenging-yet-achievable expectations.
- Scaffolding: Teaching by first demonstrating a skill, then allowing students to try it on their own.
- SEL: Social-emotional learning: focuses on managing emotions, relating effectively to others, and making responsible decisions.
- Standards-Based Grading: Individually assessing performance on each skill required to master a subject. Contrasts with the traditional “report card” method of giving one comprehensive grade for performance in English, math, etc.
- STEAM: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) curricula with Arts included for a better-rounded education.
At Shady Oak, we pride ourselves on utilizing the best educational practices and on communicating clearly with students and parents. Hope your school can say the same!