Over the 4th of July holiday, we visited the George W. Bush Presidential Library and found it beautiful, very informative, and impressive: the 9-11 Memorial, the War on Terror, the interactive Decision-Making Room, and a replication of the Oval Office. Naturally, as an educator, I spent a good amount of time in education (re)reading about No Child Left Behind. In doing so, it brought to mind some other significant Buzz Words in education. There are many – these are just a handful!
When I started teaching, Whole Language was the Buzz Word. I recall being in an interview and wondering if I had spoken enough about the Buzz Word at the time. Whole Language had some variations in meaning but basically the Real Deal was to be incorporating reading and writing freely to encourage content or output and not to be concerned or stuck on exact spelling or grammatical rules. The theory was that by immersing the student with lots of reading and writing time, the spelling and grammar would naturally fall into place. While it did help students with writing content, I think many educators (including myself) saw a gap needing to be bridged in spelling and grammar several years into the Whole Language years. Because of that, Whole Language found its exit and was relatively short-lived among educational Buzz Words.
President Bush’s education reform program, No Child Left Behind, were Buzz Words brought to America with a bold, caring initiative for all students. As President Bush had asked a teacher how he liked his job, the video at the library showed how stunned he was (as anyone would be) when the teacher replied that it was horrible….because so many of his students couldn’t read. The statistic was reported that 1 in 3 fourth graders couldn’t comprehend a very simple paragraph at what seemed to me to be the second grade level. The Real Deal of this was taking action towards ensuring that all students in America would be educated and have success in their future schooling and in the workforce. Reading is at the very core of education. Without reading and comprehension, learning is at a roadblock. I respect President Bush for many things, this Act being one of them, to take the bold step to promote an education attainable to everyone.
Some of the latest and greatest educational Buzz Words are Differentiated Learning. The Real Deal on this is to reach learners as individually needed. This is a flexible plan and morphs throughout the year, depending on the learning needs of each student.
It could look like small groups with similar needs, or it could be a student’s individual plan adjusted to fit capabilities. The uniqueness about Differentiated Learning is it is given on a need-to-need basis.
When I think of this, it affirms for me that teaching involves more listening, observing, and delivery of lesson than simply a delivery of knowledge. With this heightened awareness and teaching techniques for different styles of learning, Differentiated Learning happens. I’m guessing that many educators have been doing this before this Buzz Word label came out. It’s a sub skill-set among many for STUDENT SUCCESS under a very big title of TEACHER. I think this Buzz Word is here to stay.