5 Terms I Don’t Use– In or Out of the Classroom

While these terms are not quite worthy of the LSSU’s Banned Words List, they are words that I don’t use in, or out, of my classroom in reference to teaching.  I admit sometimes being a just a little bit literal, but as an English teacher and word-nerd, I feel quite strongly about word meanings– denotations and connotations.

Slide1Now, my entirely pedantic reasons:

  1. “Saved my Sanity” in reference to anything about teaching or the work that goes into teaching.  Most days, I do love my job.  It does not make me crazy.  Even the days when I’m burying in paperwork or petulant teenagers, I do not feel that my sanity needs saving.  For me, the literal implication of my job driving me crazy suggests I am not fit for the job.  While there are days that I have questioned if I was crazy for enjoying the job, the job is not making me crazy.  I might refer to it making things easier or smoother, or cutting down prep time.  But my sanity is not an issue.Slide2
  2. “You’ll/ They’ll Love This” in reference to any project or activity.  I always hope that my students will enjoy the things that I do.  I’ll call it a victory if they tolerate it with less complaining than normal (bonus points if they complete the whole task as designed.)  But there is such a variety of students– of people– in my classroom that I will not assure or assume all of them will love something.  Some may be contrary and just because it is a school assignment, they simply cannot love it.  Others find that taking something fun and making it work– such as song lyric analysis or reading a popular novel– means that they won’t actually love it.  I may lay out the parts that I think will be fun or interesting, but I just won’t assume anyone will like anything.
  3. Slide3“Cheat Sheet” as used for handouts or note cards/ sheets for students to refer to later.  I believe firmly that a reference source is not a “cheat” but rather a guide, a support, a tool.  I much prefer the term “Quick Guide” or even just “Handout” rather than calling anything a “Cheat Sheet.”
  4. “This is preparing you for the real-world.”  Oh, where to start with this fallacious phrase.  If a specific tasks has real-world applications, I will certainly address that.  Perhaps it’s the writing skills or completing tasks in a timely fashion.  However, most classrooms– including my own in ways– are not at all a reflection of the workplace.  And I’m not going to do my students a disservice by assuring them it is in a blanket statement intended to mollifying and encourage compliance (shut up and work.)
  5. “I’m not an artist” or “I don’t teach [insert other subject]”  I try to model for my students good, professional behavior.  While there’s nothing wrong with being weaker in some subjects– for example, my math brain is certainly less speedy and adept than my English language brain– it also can send the message that some subjects can be dismissed.  We want our students to take all subjects seriously and not dismiss one or more as “I’m not good at it” but then model that sort of dismissive attitude towards it.  Should I make an error in drawing or math, and it is noticed by me or students, I prefer to not use an attempt at self-deprecating humor or deflection, but to instead model graciousness and composure.  Basically, show them how to gracefully make and correct a mistake.

What words or phrases rankle you?

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