We are obsessed with buzz words.
When I was little, TV shows used to love the idea of buzz words or secret words. Like on Pee Wee's Playhouse (the pre-pervy years) where there was a secret word and if anyone on the show said it, everyone freaked out. Or on that game show that used to be on Nickelodeon where if you said the secret word you got slimed. (Or something like that.) And what about the $10,000 Pyramid where you had to get people to guess the secret word for money? It was like old school Taboo, but on TV.
I feel that I'm rambling.
In a nutshell, I'm sick of buzzwords. I'm sick of buzzwords that everyone uses to talk about education but no body really knows what it means or can think of an example of where it is used meaningfully or actually making a difference. I'm sick of buzzwords because the dirty little secret behind buzzwords is that really? They don't mean ANYTHING if you just say them.
A few buzzwords that I'm sick of hearing and wish that someone would actually make meaningful:
Now, I have no problem with any of these words in concept. Social justice sounds lovely. I think everyone should be held accountable for their actions. And truly differentiated instruction is a worthy and wonderful classroom goal. MY PROBLEM IS when people throw these words around and a) don't know what they hell they are talking about, b) are using them to only sound "in the know" and/or c) just use them to use them but can't back anything up with concrete action.
Buzzwords are bullshit.
I have recently discovered a new buzz word that is floating out there: "job-embedded professional development."
It's a mouthful, no?
And get this, when you say it, there is no chance of people freaking out, green slime falling on your head or you winning any money. However, there IS a chance that you will receive blank stares or adamant head nodding/agreement followed up by little to no actual action.
Job-embedded professional development is a lovely concept. Really, it's just peachy. Get this, it's the idea that current professional development should be responsive to the needs of teachers and their classroom practice and also the needs of their students. I mean, doesn't that just sound fantastic? Professional development that is relevant, useful and differentiated to suit the needs of each teacher? Sign. Me. Up.
However, no matter how many times you hear this word said (and as it has now reached buzz word status, you can assume that it will become more annoying than any current Top 40 hit on any radio station...Lady Gaga, I'm looking at YOU), I bet very few of us find that meaningful action is taken place.
It's like the secret words of our childhood. You keep waiting for the green slime, the cash prize, the ACTUAL RELEVANT TEACHER LEARNING...and it never comes.
Maybe I'm just bitter and cynical at times, (I know! Say it ain't so!) but methinks that teachers are not being included when the needs of their students or current practice are being defined. Methinks that is most likely happening according to someone else's agenda and there isn't a teacher as far as the eye can see.
If we're going to have to hear this phrase buzzing around all the time, then I wish the Powers That Be would follow it up with some real, tangible action that reflects the meaning behind the buzz. Or just throw green slime in my face and call it a day. I have a feeling that's what they'd like to do anyway.
I want to hear from you. What would make your professional development more meaningful? How could we work it so that TEACHERS feel more involved in the process?