Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Educational Buzzwords

I had a dream last night that Javier Bardem interviewed for a job teaching with my team next year. I was so torn because his answers were all buzzwords, but he was Javier Bardem!

My principal sent me some resumes to check out for the positions we are filling. Maybe it's just me but the use of pure buzzwords bother me. I think there are many different definitions for each word and who knows what the speaker/author really means by it. I guess that's why we actually interview though.

Anyway, some buzzwords that bother me:

Rigor-I think I watch too many crime dramas-it makes me think of "rigor mortis" every time I hear it.:) Now don't get me wrong, read any post almost any post on this blog and you can see I believe in incorporating rigor-it's just not defined well. To some people rigor means a double packet of worksheets or teaching a 1st grader 2nd grade material. Rigor is more incorporating depth-making the kids think harder, not more work for them.

Authentic Assessment-shouldn't every assessment be an authentic assessment? Shouldn't we be always giving kids opportunities to show what they've learned in a genuine way?

Value-added - ok, you really don't want to get me started on this one. Why is it the powers-that-be are so good at naming things to make them sound positive. We are adding value, right? Yeah!!! Kind of like No Child Left Behind-who's going to vote for kids to be left behind? Good at naming....

Peer Tutoring- ugh! When an applicant brings this up in an interview I always put them on the spot and ask them exactly what they mean by this term. I have no problem with an after school program where 5th Graders tutor 2nd Graders, but if you are talking about partnering kids during class so the advanced kid can teach the struggling kid-sorry, that's my job. Kids shouldn't be spending class time tutoring other kids.

Balanced Literacy-this is another one that has many different definitions depending on who you talk to. Some think it's giving equal time to the different subjects within language arts-vocab, spelling, etc. In our district it's a combination of phonics and whole language approaches. There are probably more variations out there.

New Math - correct me if I'm wrong, but we have an old math now? I know, it's teaching the processes differently, which by the way really ends up confusing parents. Trust me, I was a kid who did not do well in math, with a father who had degrees in engineering. New Math reminds me of something he came up with when he was showing me the 6,000 different ways to do one problem.

Project-Based Learning-again, love the concept! Use it in my own class-I just think people are confused as to what it really means. For example, I was on a website the other day where they were displaying this concept-the teacher passed out the pieces already cut out and the children glued it on paper. This is "craft"-based learning-I truly believe there is a difference.
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