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Keeping your family-school partnerships strong

written & curated by michael grose & the parentingideas team
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3 June

Are your parents drowning in edu-speak?

Submitted by:
Michael Grose

Recently, I was listening to a group of teachers speaking and I thought for a time they were using another language.

That’s because educational jargon and acronyms were flying thick and fast. Even though I have teaching background I still struggled to understand them.

Every profession has it’s unique jargon that aids understanding between professionals. Teaching is not different. It drips
with educational language.

The challenge though is to make sure that you communicate clearly to parents, and leave the EDU-SPEAK out of your communications.

The three BIG mistakes educators make when communicating with parents are:

1. Using complex language. Eg Using the term ‘oral language’ rather than ‘speaking’
2. Using educational jargon. E.g ‘ We cater to individual learning styles.’ Huh!??!!
3. Using Acronyms. VTU, CAT’s, etc.

Instead try the following:

1.Say it simply

I learned the lesson of simple communication many years ago.

After fifteen years as a teacher, I began writing a fortnightly family relationships column for News Ltd newspapers. My editor always simplified my language. So ‘epicentire’ became ‘centre’, ‘communicating orally’ became ‘speaking to’ and ‘pro social behaviours’ became ‘friendly’. I wanted to impress; he wanted me to communicate.

He taught me to work hard to find the simplest word or phrase I could find so I’d communicate with the widest possible audience. It’s not dumbing down. It’s being a good communicator.

As a rule of thumb, always use simple rather than complex terms when communicating with parents.

2. Avoid jargon

It’s also important to stay away from terms that have meaning to professionals but have little meaning for parents. If you do you use education-speak then you need to explain it, preferably with a pictorial example or explanation to assist visual learners.

3. Ban acronyms

Nothing confuses people like acronyms and education is full of them. An acronym is shortened version of a concept that has meaning to those in the know, but leaves others in the dark.
As a rule of thumb, BAN them completely from your vocabulary when communicating with parents.

Hold a language of school workshop

It’s really helpful to parents to conduct a ‘language of school workshop’ each year clarifying common educational terms and concepts (e.g assessment, reporting, learning program). This also assists teachers be mindful of keeping ‘edu-speak’ to an absolute minimum.

Effective communicators are able to adapt their message and their vocabulary for different audiences. As a teacher you must communicate with three groups- students, professionals and parents. Your challenge as an effective communicator is to make sure the language you choose hits the mark with each group.

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