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The Acronyms and Jargon Every Teacher Should Know

In a world of intense educational reform, teachers have the immense responsibility of keeping up with the latest and greatest movements happening across the country in the field. Yet due to the nature of jargon, many of these strategies and programs have been carefully replaced with simple acronyms to save time and minimize redundancy.  Surely, keeping up with these terms can feel like a full-time job. To help, Education World has distilled the list down to these 10 key acronyms every teacher should be familiar with to make it through the year!

UBO (Understanding By Oops):  This acronym refers to a pedagogical phenomenon where a teacher obtains a crystallized moment of clarity upon realizing that a particular lesson could have been planned much, much better. Oftentimes experienced in retrospect after the lesson’s execution, but at times experienced anticipatorily, upon the early hours of the morning in a cold sweat the night before said lesson. A unique cross between utter panic and thoughtful reflection, perhaps the most interesting version of this event sometimes occurs mid-class, not unlike a moment of satori. A useful tool for self-improvement, as well as a guaranteed cure for cases of somnia.

404 Plan:  This refers to what you plan to do when technology fails in the classroom. Five students can’t connect to the Wi-Fi, four have computers that won’t turn on at all, three chargers won’t charge, two have error messages, and one projector doesn’t seem to have sound. Crying is an option, but not always encouraged. Your 404 plan might include strategies like writing on cave walls by firelight, the human knot, or showing students the close-up magic tricks you worked on last summer. Note: all of these strategies can be executed whilst quietly weeping to yourself.

SSOs (Student Sidetracking Objectives):  This alludes to a common malady where your class attempts to sidetrack you during a lesson by making references to your personal interests, laughing encouragingly at your jokes, and asking for you to “tell another story”. Understand that this is data-driven work on the student’s behalf: they have likely spent weeks subtly collecting information on your tendency toward Star Trek marathons and your awkward fascination with cats. All this, just in an attempt to avoid getting to the day’s assignment.

TBD (Triumph By Design):  The feeling an educator gets when a lesson goes exactly as planned: the execution, the engagement, the product!  It was like a symphony of learning objectives!  Best practices suggest educators keep an in-class microphone to be dropped at the end of these days. 

NYHSSCD (Nod Your Head and Smile with Slight Concern and Determination):  This strategy is most useful when you are in a meeting and aren’t familiar with the acronyms being used. The nod suggests you are familiar with the acronym, just like everyone else at the table. The smile is there, just in case someone doesn’t “buy” the nod – an understanding safety net.  The look of determination shows you are a team player: ready to try something new with an unwavering confidence. Yet the look of concern suggests you are reflecting upon its potential application in the classroom. Googling the acronym on your phone under the table is always encouraged, however, if you notice other team members employing NYHSSCD, it is sometimes more fun to add your own made-up acronyms to the mix.

RTY (Response to Yolo):  This strategy generally refers to your response to jargon and acronyms students might use. Beware. If you pretend to know the phrase, they might call you out on it. If you ask what it means, your “cool teacher” card might be revoked or, worse, they might actually tell you. Best to try applying the NYHSSCD strategy (mentioned above). If it’s a trend you’d like to see disappear altogether, all you need to do is simply start using it yourself in the classroom.

NCLB:  No one’s quite sure exactly what this one meant. 

UDF (Universal Design for Friday): You’ve planned it all out. Babysitter is set. Emails sent out, hinting at the details of your teacher “choir practice”. Rules established: no talking about work. The knowing glances between staff members. The clock is ticking, and an ice cold adult beverage is just waiting for you and the team at the local haunt. A well-planned happy hour will always reap the best results for a determined group of educators.

FCA (Faux Correction Area):  When a student says something genuinely funny in class and it takes all of your willpower to not laugh, as it was very much not appropriate at the moment. The truth is, that kid is hilarious. However, your lesson and professionalism are on the line. Best case scenario, refocus the student, bite your cheek, and try your best to summon up Ben Stein’s teacher character from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. An extremely important detail of this strategy is to actively find time to giggle about this later, because again: That.  Was.  Hilarious.

DDDM (Due Date Decision-Making):  When the due date for your SLOs, curriculum, data, or report card comments creeps up on you and you, yes you, suddenly are the embodiment of titanic bouts of productivity and speed, all matched with an exceeding brilliance for the discipline. You begin to marvel at your own Excel docs and the sagacity of your words. Deciding to not catch up on “The Walking Dead” and instead spending the weekend crunching numbers and looking at skill acquisition has never been easier!


Written by Keith Lambert, Education World Contributor

Lambert is an English / Language Arts teacher and teacher leader in Connecticut.

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