Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stop the Edu BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!

 Edu-Babble.  Edu-Speak.  I'll call it Edu-Blah, Blah, Blah.  A sample of the "blah" goes something like this:
"As teaching practitioners in the 21st century, we need to be pedagogically sound  - embracing practices and values such as assessment for learning, grading for learning, 21st century skills, personalized learning, differentiated instruction, individualized instruction and self regulation............(cue the eyes rolling, yawns, head scratching and/or glazed looks from all the non-educators - and even some educators)" 
We do ourselves, as educators, a huge a disservice when we attempt to use "Edu Blah" to communicate with  our students, parents and greater communities.

We lose them.  

And if we, as educators (and schools), can't communicate our own "story" effectively, we run the risk of creating a communication void or vacuum- leaving it to someone else to potentially distort or misrepresent.   Case in point - the recent "no zero's" story in Edmonton".

 Now before I go any further, I will declare that I can "edu blah, blah" with the best of them.  

Today I come clean.  I would like offer up some "edu blah's" and coinciding plain language definition:

Formative Assessment
Long before any "grade" is assigned to a student, teachers (and other students) give students descriptive feedback regarding their work.  The more detailed the feedback the better. "Good job" doesn't cut it and neither do numbers and/or letter grades.

Summative Assessment
Anything that a student does to demonstrate what they have learned.   It gives a teacher evidence of a student's learning.

Differentiated Instruction
We all learn differently.  Teachers reflect this reality in their teaching.

Tools teachers use to assist students in determining what is expected of them.

Personalized Learning
Giving students more control of their learning.  Putting students in the drivers seat.

More thinking, problem solving and "doing".  Less memorizing.

Letter Grades
An imperfect way to report student learning.

No Zero Policies
Students that chronically struggle to produce the required evidence of their learning are the most at risk to "slip through the cracks" in school.  Assigning these students a zero does nothing to support them nor teach them the required skills and work habits to be responsible learners. Finding ways to ensure they do the work is the right thing to do.  

Professional Learning Communities 
Teachers need to come together to solve something, produce something or share something related to their teaching.  When they do this, they become better teachers  - benefiting all students

PLN (Personal Learning Network)
See above.

Digital Literacy
Making sure we all know how to appropriately use the internet and the devices that connect to it. 

21st Century Learning
The world is a changing place.  Schools need to reflect this changing reality.

21st Century Skills
Thinking, collaborating, creating, filtering, problem solving and a little bit memorizing too.

Bring your own device/technology to school.  Students and teachers have it, why not let them use it?

Stakeholders/Educational Partners
All the people involved in educating our students.

I invite all my fellow educators to add to this list.  We need to reclaim our message.  Our communities require this of us.


  1. I left High School 21 yrs ago. The past 3 years I have returned to that environment again with ChatterHigh. As a Father of twin 5 yr-olds about to enter 'the system', I am reminded that there will always be a cadre of professional educators who continually seek to remain connected to the student in order to maximize their development. Comments from the public often fail to recognize this truth. This article is a simple example of that commitment.

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