Teacher lingo is a real thing. It's a language all of our own, filled with buzz words, acronyms, and teacher-friendly terms. IEP, IRI, SBAC, formative assessments, pedagogy, etc. It's a foreign language to the world outside of education. In fact, I've often worried during IEP meetings whether the parents could understand half of what was being said. Sometimes it's easier to smile and nod.
I'm convinced that we speak this language without hardly thinking about it, because it's our culture. And if we did stop to think about it, maybe we'd find opportunities to revise our language, like in these examples:
He's a low reader.
She's in the low math group.
Haven't we all said something similar about a student at one point or another and hardly thought twice about it? We're culturized to describe them that way. I understand that it's simply a descriptor, not used with any malicious intent. I've been using the word "low" most of my career, and I've never used it offensively. Yet it's been causing me some angst of late, because I stopped to think about how it sounds when it's attached to the name of someone who's in my care. And because it's on my radar, I notice how often we teachers use it to describe our students. A lot.
Some might argue that it's merely a matter of semantics. Will a different adjective fix the problems these students face or how we go about helping them? Maybe not, but is there a better word we could use? I've got a few in mind. Maybe I'll never find a replacement that I'm completely comfortable with, but on behalf of my students who struggle academically, I'd like to use my words concerning them more carefully regardless of the fact they'll never hear me describe them that way.