I probably don’t need the disclaimer that obviously ALL educators don’t say these things, but I will lead with that anyway. Clearly, not ALL. However, each of these things I believe cripples our amazing profession a little bit and we would be much better without them. Here they are and some brief thoughts on how they hinder our work.
1. “That student is low” – Stop labeling kids based on an arbitrary timeline of learning and expectations that have significantly changed over time. First, is this professional and kind? If that was your child, is that how you would want others talking about them? A more accurate phrase might be, “the learning acquisition levels of this student, which are individual and developmentally unique to them, have not yet matched the random timeline and skills we have decided they should have mastered at this time.”
2. “They need to learn that for (or by) the M-STEP” – This one makes me shudder to my core. Students need to learn for the love of learning. They need to learn because learning builds on learning and what comes next may depend on what is being learned now. They need to learn it because education is the key to unlock so many doors in their life. But not because of a standardized test. Students need to learn your guaranteed and viable curriculum. I also don’t care if the M-STEP is in April and they learn it in May. Making sure they learn it for a standardized assessment isn’t my job. Making sure they learn it, is. Those two are not the same.
3. “That idea won’t work” – Not all ideas are good ideas. Not all ideas can come to fruition. I’m not saying that. But too often in our profession, I’ve seen close-mindedness shut down a potentially really good idea. Listen, ask questions, dig deeper, mine out any possible issues and help the person to move the idea forward. Don’t shut down thinking, explore possibilities.
4. “If we just collaborate we will all do it the same” – Collaboration means to work with someone to produce and create something. It doesn’t mean we will all agree and it doesn’t mean we will all do everything the same. Share ideas, discuss, look at all perspectives, and make agreements. But also allow a district, building, or classroom to have their different takes on it. Let’s not turn collaboration into compliance.
5. “His learning will increase if he just does his homework” – I think we can all agree on what research says about homework and it’s correlation to student learning. At parent-teacher conference time of year, we sometimes make a mistake of guaranteeing to parents that increase homework will increase student learning. Yes, for some students additional independent practice without teacher support can be an asset. However, let’s not rely on that to have a major impact on student learning.
We are part of the greatest profession in the world. I think if we can keep some of these words and phrases out of our vernacular, it can be even better.