If We Were Having Coffee: 3 Education Buzzwords

Image by PDPics

Image by PDPics

If we were having coffee, I’d vent to you about the 3 education buzzwords I’m tired of people misusing and/or overusing. Those buzzwords are rigor, fidelity, and scaffolding. I’d tell you that I think those are crazy important words when it comes to teaching and learning, but I think that many teachers, administrators, politicians, and community members don’t know what those words “look like”. What’s worse? In many cases, they don’t even really know what those words mean.


If we were having coffee, I’d compare those 3 educational buzzwords to my Mama’s gumbo. You see, my Mama makes great gumbo. One time she added a diced tomato to the big pot gumbo (tomatoes aren’t traditionally added), and it was delicious! It really enhanced the gumbo and made the roux pop. My brother and I were against the addition of tomatoes because we thought it wouldn’t work. We thought the roux would clash with the tomato, or worse, it would turn out reddish. And red gumbo is the worst kind of gumbo. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. It worked. My Mama later found out that many cooks have added tomatoes to their gumbo with surprising success.

tomato and gumbo

I call this ‘Tomato ampersand Gumbo‘.

Next time she made gumbo, Mama added tons of tomatoes. It was awful. Instead of the tomatoes being a compliment to the flavors in the roux, the abundance of tomatoes made the gumbo lose all of its flavor. It was simply too much and ruined everything.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the the tomatoes in my Mama’s gumbo are just like those 3 educational buzzwords. They are great, but if you use to much then it is overwhelming, ineffective, and loses the intention of the original purpose. Many people will tell you those buzzwords don’t work (just like people are vehemently opposed to tomatoes in gumbo), but they can work only done effectively.

If we were having coffee, we would talk about ways all educators could work together to make these 3 education buzzwords work effectively in the classroom. We’d talk about what rigor, fidelity, and scaffolding should look like. We’d talk about how to encourage educators, especially administrators, to stop overusing and misusing those words so much.

Then, I’d invite you to have a hot bowl of gumbo with me.

If we were having coffee or gumbo, what would you tell me?

coffee2If We Were Having Coffee is a weekly blog share and link up hosted by Part-Time Monster.

14 thoughts on “If We Were Having Coffee: 3 Education Buzzwords

  1. I absolutely love gumbo. And I agree that we should be using words how they were meant to be used. I’d love to read a more in-depth post about what you think those words mean & how they should be used. I, for one, haven’t heard of fidelity as an education term.

    • Implementing something with fidelity is supposed to mean ‘do it the way a strategy or program was intended every time you do it’ and ‘try the strategy and program for a while to see if it works’. It’s almost a no brainer.

      But some people now take it as: implement the thing 100%- 24/7 or do the thing all the time & nothing else or do the thing perfectly or you can’t make any modifications to the thing or do it EXACTLY how the book said do that thing & do nothing else… A mess.

  2. When rigor started trending as a buzzword, I would whisper rigor mortis to whomever was sitting closest to me. We aren’t raising our standards, we’re pushing students to the point they’d rather face death than school. We’re killing their love for learning. Great post! I’ll skip the gumbo, though!

    • Awww, no gumbo? Ookay. 🙂 Just coffee then.

      Rigor mortis always makes me giggle. I was going to add 21st Century skills, but it isn’t one word. Plus, I actually support rigor, fidelity, and scaffolding.

  3. That gumbo sounds great! Thank you for the coffee chat! I think your observations about the overuse of these words are important. I’ve seen it before…where buzz words are used by everyone, even those that don’t understand them, in an effort to show that they are on top of things. Instead, they show the opposite.

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