#SOL19 Day 26 Spark! Jargonese

For the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 5.28.56 PMChallenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions. I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.

Jargonese Spark!

As educators, we often forget we speak fluent Jargonese. We throw around acronyms like candy at a parade and can often forget that novice teachers, parents, or community members might be confused by or left out of the conversations that are punctuated by letter strings.  Just this last week I heard:

RTI            IEP          NBPT         PBIS         F&P         MEA     ADD    ADHD

Not only do we speak in these abbreviated terms, but we often don’t stop and think what they might mean to someone who doesn’t live them everyday until we are sitting across from a parent at an Individualized Education Program meeting or a parent/teacher conference and we are met with glassy-eyed stares.

So here’s a quick write that could be “FUN” at staff meetings or PD (that’s professional development, you know). Pop an acronym up on the board and give yourself (and other teachers) 5 minutes to quick write a parent-friendly definition/explanation that does not include any Jargonese. Imagine you are having a conversation. What would you say?

Then share some of your responses. How similar or different are the quick writes? How easy is it to put complex ideas into kid-friendly, parent-friendly, or community-friendly language? What are you thinking about?

Here’s my quick write. (don’t judge!)


RTI stands for Response to Intervention. We are always looking for ways to support learning and when we find that our regular classroom instruction is not meeting a student’s needs in order to make solid progress, we often look for ways to help-we call this an  INTERVENTION. So we may reteach, give individual support, provide more modeling, give extra practice, or break down a task into smaller skills. Then we observe how the student does (or RESPONDS to that INTERVENTION). We try to assess if that intervention was helpful, or see if we need to try something else. We usually give it a few weeks to look for growth. We sometimes ask others to help us brainstorm ideas and problem-solve issues so that we are giving your child the best support.

Ok, that was 5 minutes and I found myself having to choose alternatives for “one-on-one”  and “adequate” and even wondered if the words “task” and “modeling” might have been obscure for some parents.

Even if you don’t do this with others, it might be helpful to quick write what you might say in a conversation with parents, kids, school boards, or community members BEFORE you are trying to define and explain these jargony concepts. It’s not as easy as you might think, especially when emotions are running high with concerned or stressed parents.You’ll be glad you did!





17 thoughts on “#SOL19 Day 26 Spark! Jargonese

  1. This is such a great idea. I’m thinking more self-assessment than having anyone else assessing us, but what a way to help us think about how we want to grow as teachers. (BTW, trying to find your name on your blog. Even on your “about me” page it’s not clear. Is it Jennifer? (read your ABC poem to try and find out). I’d love to keep following your adventures after SOL!

  2. Yes jargonese can be so confusing. And trying to define it can be very lengthy and not always clear. I am trying to do it with my teachers whose first language is not English.
    Fortunately I don’t need to do it with parents here, it would be beyond them.
    You raise interesting points…!

  3. When a parent receives an evaluation report, it is FILLED with results that are difficult to understand. Recently I have written information pages for parents so they may understand where a weakness may impact their child’s learning. So, if your child has a low score in “fluid reasoning” I supply a list of what the difficulty looks like and another list of what we can do to help with those difficulties.
    I do think we need to speak in everyday terms when we talk to parents.

  4. Great idea for teachers to try to explain special terms in everyday language. I teach English Learners and with them and their parents, this is even more crucial! Just emailed your idea to a fellow teacher! Thank you!

  5. As a teacher of gifted, I often have to explain what an IEP is to both parents and students. I need to do a quick write and put it in my back pocket. When I first started teaching in the public schools, it was really hard to learn the jargon. Like what in the world is an SBLC meeting. SBLC stands for School Building Level Committee which also makes no sense to me. Thanks for this reminder.

  6. You know, I feel like I know this stuff (because I am a Special Education teacher & deal with parents a lot), but I wonder if I shouldn’t practice a little before parent-teacher conferences tomorrow. Maybe my co-teacher and I can practice with a few of our tougher things before the hordes descend.

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