6 EDU Phrases to DEEP-SIX

The words we choose have the power to:


As educators- No, as people- we have a responsibility to select our words thoughtfully and with precision.

I was in a meeting yesterday where the presenter distributed these at the start of the session:


At the end of the meeting, the presenter read each item aloud and the group was asked to discuss ‘what not to do during a meeting’.

I left the meeting thoughtful about how a little shift in language might have sparked discussion around the topic in a more positive light:


Speaking of language choice…

How often do we discuss learning experiences without thoughtfully considering the implication of our word choices?

6 EDU phrases we might DEEP SIX in replace of more thoughtful language:

“Behavior Management” :  A shift from a focus on ‘management’ to a focus on ‘culture’ would bring learners back into this equation.  Think about what a positive shift in language it is to move from a reactive position of ‘managing student behavior’ to the positive, proactive language of ‘developing positive classroom culture’  ♥

“Instructional Time”:  Rather than spend any more ‘time’ adding up instructional minutes or even worse: ‘seat time’, let’s shift our focus away from inputs and toward outputs.  How are our students able to create, contribute, and inspire as a result of our precious time with them? Neither time spent ‘being taught at’ or time spent in a seat (no matter how great the environment) is a measure of students’ learning – not to mention their curiosity, creativity, resilience, persistence….

“Mainstream”:  Are educators still using this term?  If so, I think we should consider the subtle way it implies that the goal is for all learners to swim in the same direction.  Perhaps a shift in mindset from conformity to equity is in order.

   FROM    FISH3    TO   FISH2      

“Gifted & Talented”:  Let’s be mindful of the exclusivity that this phrase implies.  Instead, let’s commit to honoring the gifts and talents in each of our learners.

“Enrichment“:  See above!  Shouldn’t all learners have access to enriching learning experiences on a regular basis?

“21st Century Skills”:  The premise of this phrase (the idea that learners should be prepared for the ever changing world we live in) is a good one.  BUT, we have a responsibility to further clarify what we mean here.  Let’s trade this ambiguous phrase for more thoughtful language that includes reference to innovation, creativity, flexibility, passion, and love – and let’s use it to describe the needs of all learners – ourselves included.


What other EDU jargon should we think more carefully about?

5 thoughts on “6 EDU Phrases to DEEP-SIX

  1. “Instructional delivery model” – We should not be “delivering instruction,” we should be creating the conditions for powerful learning.

    “SEL curriculum” – If we don’t address the features of schooling that harm students emotionally (eg giving zeros & other academic penalties for non-academic behaviors) then a separate curriculum “delivered” in its own silo is missing the point and is unlikely to help.


  2. I am sending this to a bunch of administrators I know. The implications of using certain words can have long term effects on so many of us. You also touched on a word I would like to see used more, and the idea become embedded in learning culture, Equity. I’d also love to see the following words sent to their respective graveyards since they are now being used as comfort words rather than the actual meaning and intent that should come with them. Diversity and Personalized.

    Liked by 1 person

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