When you are in education long enough, you can become cynical about the latest buzzword that’s going to change everything. And yet, the world keeps changing so we can’t keep doing things the same way. Sometimes the latest is merely something old cloaked in a new name. As I wrote in last week’s blog Word Wise, words carry emotional meaning and every change reflect an altered perspective, which is why you need to keep up with the latest buzzwords.
When you know and understand current buzzwords, you show your leadership by presenting yourself as an expert in current trends. You should also check to ensure you are aware of buzzwords that go beyond librarianship and are circulating among administrators. Even better is to know what’s happening in business and technology because it is likely they will affect education – and therefore your library program.
I am a member of ASCD so I can get their journal Educational Leadership. The themes of each issue are strong indicators of where administrators are going. I also get SmartBriefs on a variety of topics, including leadership (invariably business leadership) and technology in my inbox daily. These SmartBriefs lead me to relevant online columns and blogs. I interpret what I discover through the lens of school librarianship and you’ve seen many of these articles referenced in this blog.
Anjana Deepak’s article Buzzwords Make an Impact Paving the Way to Learn Something New, and Creating Value for and within, the Profession, lists 23 current buzzwords along with an explanation of buzzwords, differentiating them from jargon and slang. You will know many of them, but for the ones you don’t know, take time to research them so you are up to speed. When and if they are relevant, you want to be able to use them in your conversations with principals and teachers in your building.
In addition to Deepak’s list, I came up with seven more which I have been noticing, bringing the total up to thirty.
- Agency – Ability to make free choices and act independently as opposed to structure such as social class, gender, ethnicity which can determine or limit one’s decisions.
- Competency-based education -A system using instruction, assessments, grading and other techniques to determine if students have learned the skills and competencies they are expected to learn. Usually tied to state and national standards, its goal is to ensure students are prepared for school, college, career, and life. (Based on the definition from Edglossary)
- Computational thinking – A problem-solving approach formulated in a way that it can be solved by humans or computers. It has four stages: Decomposition – breaking the problem down into smaller parts; Pattern recognition – seeing commonalities among the parts; Abstraction – focusing only on the important parts; Algorithms – forming a step-by-step solution.
- Growth Mindset – Mindset is how you see yourself. Unlike those with a fixed mindset who view their positive and negative abilities (and attitudes) as unchangeable, people with a growth mindset believe they can improve or change. Having a growth mindset makes you open to learning.
- Personalized Learning– As opposed to the one-size-fits-all instruction, this approach uses multiple avenues to tailor learning experiences to meet individual student needs including small learning “academies “and allowing students to design their own learning routes such as taking an internship or enrolling in a college course.
- Proficiency-based learning – A system that requires students to demonstrate they have acquired the knowledge and skills deemed necessary (usually according to set standards). Those who don’t meet the standards are given additional instruction and practice time.
- Social and Emotional Learning – Commonly called SEL. Districts are embracing it in various degrees. In essence, it’s about developing Emotional Intelligence as it helps students and teachers to understand and manage their emotions, leading to improved relationships and decision-making. CASEL (the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) has an easy-to-access website on what SEL means and how to implement it.
Knowing the current buzzwords is integral to being recognized as a leader. I remember when rubrics came in. I knew about them, although I had never created one. When a teacher came to me to help her make a rubric for an assignment as her department chair required (and had given no help), I knew enough to work with her, and her department chair was pleased.
There is a caveat. Don’t flaunt or overuse buzzwords. Your conversation shouldn’t be filled with them. It can sound forced, making the listener uncomfortable either because they don’t know what you’re talking about or because it sounds like you’re talking at them rather than to them. A. Too often buzzwords descend into jargon which shuts people out. Think of legal or medical language and how off-putting that can be. You want to be inclusive. The library is a safe, welcoming environment for all – not just those who know the buzz.