I’m back in school. High school that is.
A few evenings ago I found myself perched on a somewhat tottering chair, holding handouts in one hand and a cookie in the other. I was peering over my reading glasses at the figure in the distance, the principal, as he spoke into the darkened room to a gymnasium full of parents and caregivers.
It was the end of a long day and I was harumphed. aka tired and bit grumpy.
So when he introduced some of his staff, I harumphed to myself – turn on the lights so I can see them.
So when he talked about differentiated learning, a term on his powerpoint slide, I harumphed – what the heck are you talking about? (replacing ‘heck’ with a far less polite term)
It took me some time to catch up and realize that differentiated learning were classes aimed at everything from honours students to students who need additional support.
I shouldn’t have had to catch up.
It was a case of having made my brain work too hard on stuff that wasn’t ultimately important. The concept is important, the actual term is not. Instead of spinning my wheels on figuring out what differentiated learning was, I should have been focusing on how I can continue to support my kid as he continues his journey through high school.
Differentiated learning needed to be explained up front. Pronto.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great school. I’m a big supporter.
I’m also a parent with a Masters Degree, who feels very comfortable in academic settings. Being the trainer I am, harumphing as I was, I couldn’t help but wonder what other parents might be feeling. Parents who, for a variety of reasons, don’t feel comfortable in an academic setting. Parents whose first language may not be English. Parents who may not be fully literate.
Not a good example of being accessible and inclusive. Not a good example of soothing parent’s brains (e.g. explaining terms) so energy can be focused on things that matter.
As trainers we’re experts in our subject area. Remembering what it’s like to start out, to begin to learn about our field can be hard. An example of how easily we can turn off learners and have them off harumphing is to simply not define terms.
Funnily enough a great example of trainers using terms happened a few days later with my other kid, but that’s another blog post.