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10 Educational Buzzwords and Their Meanings

Janelle Cox

Like most occupations, education has its own set of unique words that they use when referring to specific entities in education policies. These buzzwords are often used as interview questions for teachers to see if the candidate is up to date with her education policies knowledge. Educational jargon is often the one thing most candidates trip up on. To risk embarrassment, familiarize yourself with the following terms and their meanings. Make sure you understand them well enough to be able to talk about how you would implement them within your instruction. That will help you stand out during interview questions for teachers, more so than just knowing the meaning of each term.

Common Core Standards

These standards are designed to present parents and teachers with a clear understanding of what students are supposed to be learning in school across the United States. The common core is the work of state academic leaders who set out to design a benchmark that all states can adopt and follow in their schools. These standards focus on advanced thinking skills so students will be college ready. Since being implemented, there has been much controversy over the ways these tests are designed. Parents, students, and even teachers are stating these tests are leaving students frustrated and filled with anxiety.

Differentiated Instruction

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This is an instructional technique that is used to reach students with different learning styles. Each student learns best in his own way, and differentiated instruction means that the teacher observes all students to see how he/she can plan instruction that will suit each individual student.

Higher-Order Thinking Skills

This refers to the ability to apply complex concepts to answer a question or solve a problem that may have more than one right answer. One model of these thinking skills is Bloom’s Taxonomy. This focuses on six levels that students must practice and incorporate into their lessons and activities, they are; knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. 

Individual Learning Styles

This term refers to the way each individual students learns best. For example, some students are more visual learners, while others are kinesthetic. Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory focuses on the different learning styles each child can have. Teachers can use this theory to figure out how each student learns best, then present their lessons in a way that will suit all learning styles. For example, when presenting a science lesson the teacher can use a visual aid for the visual learners, and a tactile experience for the kinesthetic learners.

Integration of Technology

Technology integration is when classroom teachers use technology to introduce, reinforce, or extend student mastery of a specific concept. For example, teachers can use an iPad, a Smartboard, or computers as another form of student learning.

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning is a teaching strategy that requires students to work together to complete a task. Each student in the group is responsible for learning specific information, as well as teaching that information they have learned to their group.  Simply put, all students with varied abilities learn to share responsibilities in order to achieve a common goal.

Peer Assessment

Peer assessment refers to when students of equal status assess each other’s work. This process is said to improve students’ metacognitive skills as well as enhance their understanding of knowledge. Teachers use this form of assessment to develop interpersonal skills and group dynamics.

Instructional Scaffolding

Scaffolding is the support that is given to students when a new concept is introduced. In order to best facilitate learning, teachers introduce motivational techniques to pique student interest. Some scaffolding techniques may include activating prior knowledge, modeling, displaying a visual graphic, using verbal cues, using a graphic organizer, asking questions, making predications, or teaching key terms before reading.

Student Progress Monitoring

This is a form of assessment that helps teachers evaluate how effective their instruction is. This can be by individual student, or the whole class. A teacher who uses progress monitoring develops goals that can be measured and tracked throughout the school year. For example, a child may have a reading goal of a particular number of words per minute that they are expected to know by the end of the school year. The teacher will then measure the students’ progress towards the goal each week to determine how they are excelling. Weekly tests can reflect the child’s progress, and the teacher can then compare these tests to make the decision whether or not to change the method of instruction so the child can meet their ultimate yearly goal. 

Text Complexity

Text complexity refers to how challenging the material is for a child at their specific grade level. The common core standards introduced three levels for measuring text complexity: Quantitative, qualitative,  reader and task. The teachers uses these three ways to measure complexity, along with their professional judgment.

In addition to the buzzwords listed above, it is essential that you find out the educational terms the school district you are interviewing with uses. Spend some time talking to teachers in your district, or look on the districts website to learn the educational terms they use most often. Being up to date with the latest educational jargon can only be an asset to you.

Did I miss any educational buzzwords? Please share with us in the comment section below.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for, as well as a contributing writer to and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators

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