Thursday, October 11, 2012

Principals' guide to 'power words'

There's a new superintendent in Dallas,  and improving communication is one of his top priorities.  So Mike Miles has sent his principals a brochure full of  "power words"  and  "acknowledgement phrases"  to use in talking with parents.  It includes suggestions such as “District leaders are student-focused in their decision making”  and  “The superintendent’s plan brings stability and a clear direction to the district,”  reports Matthew Haag of the Dallas Morning News.

There's a new superintendent in Charlotte,  and improving communication is one of his top priorities as well.  In fact,  some of you may recall that Heath Morrison was one of three finalists for the Dallas job but opted for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools instead.

For the sake of CMS principals,  I'm hoping Morrison is less heavy-handed in whatever communication strategy he comes up with.  I'm thinking a lot of them would be insulted by being handed such phrases as  "It depends,"  "That's true,"  and "Thank you for coming to the school."  Yes, the Dallas district actually hired a consultant to come up with this stuff.

As a reporter with a sense of humor, though, I can only pray that Morrison lobs us a softball like this. How much fun do you think Haag and the Morning News' data guy had creating the button that lets readers generate their own catch phrases?

Just in case Morrison is trying to come up with a list,  maybe we can help him out and save money on consultants. I'm sure  "every child,  every day, for a better tomorrow"  and  "passport to a better future"  are already on his list.  What else have you heard,  from him or others in CMS?  What would you add to a list of  "power words"?


Anonymous said...

Personal accountability

Anonymous said...

"I need to see you for a few minutes."
"Would you close the door?"

Anonymous said...

"data-driven", rigor and relevance

Anonymous said...

It is all about the children! Thank you for what you do every day. Barrrrrrfffffff

Wiley Coyote said...

Buzzwords do nothing to help little Johnnie read.

If you step into a pile of cow s@%!, you can say you stepped into a pile of organic material instead.

But it's still cow s@%!.

Shamash said...

Should you wear a "power tie" when you use "power words"?

This is the result of some very shallow thinking.

But I'm sure the ignorant masses can't see through these kinds of shenanigans.

I'd cringe at such a display of stupidity, just as I do when someone "offers" to "share" something with me when they really just want to tell me what to do.

Such persuasion techniques only work with stupid people.

But maybe that's what this principal thinks of the parents.

BolynMcClung said...


Also in the Superintendent’s volume of vocabulary values are suggestions. Below are a few

Use appropriate humor. It gives the following examples:

What do the Avon salesperson and the Superintendent knocking on your door have in common? Make-up.

Why did the 7,000 CMS students cross the road?
To go to a charter school.

Another suggestion to teachers from the manual.
Use "Ipad" in a sentence. Example:
I pad the grades by making a zero a fifty.

An example of how to explain the Common Core to parents.
How many students equal a half-full class at Myers Park?
20 30 40 Jello
Answer. Jello. (It’s advertising slogan: There’s always room for more)

From the manual – “Be careful about how you use similar words. Here is an example:
Words that should never be empty: praise, raise

Bolyn McClung

PS: I’m not giving-up my day job.

Anonymous said...

As a parent, my favorite power phrase to use when explaining things to educrats is:

"It is obvious to the meanest intelligence..."

Just so they know their place.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Wiley, you'll love this: I posted a link to this on my Facebook page. Normally what displays is the headline and first sentence or two of my post. In this case, it displayed the headline and your "organic material" comment. Maybe Facebook or decided your writing was catchier than mine.

Bill Stevens said...

Wiley, do I owe you a $1 rolyalty fee if I use the term "organic material" in my next school board public hearing ?

Wiley Coyote said...


Using @#%! doesn't convey the essence of using the actual word.

I used that same phrase in another post yesterday on the Observer page, masking the word as I did here and they deleted the comment.

I guess the organic material part offended one of your cohorts over there.

Wiley Coyote said...

No payment needed Bill.

I'm like Wikipedia except I call it Wileypedia.

It's free, open source, bull generated organic material.

Anonymous said...

Ann, I masked a word I used to describe the Charlotte Observer's editors reaction to the ever apologetic contributor Kay McSpadden and got my logon name banned from more comments. Guess I hit the nail on the head with that one.

Anonymous said...

We appreciate your input.

Anonymous said...

CMS school board guide to power words.

"Your comments are duly noted".

Anonymous said...

"We feel your pain"

Anonymous said...

CMS school board

"Are we talking about guiding principals or guiding principles?"

Anonymous said...

"We value your contributions".

Wiley Coyote said...

My second favorite politically correct overused word after diversity is "stakeholders".

Anonymous said...

Every child, every day.... Driving for the lowest common denominator.

Passport for a better fuure.... Send me my check/charter school seat for my child so I can arrange their education.

Shamash said...

LaTarja Henry should be worried.

She can be replaced with an app.

Anonymous said...

Any principal who needs such guidance should not have made it to principal.
Bolyn: I enjoyed each item in your 8:10. Good job.

Anonymous said...

Who you kidding Dallas got the better of the 2 free agents. Heath was not getting the job in D-town this one was too easy. Guide the Chamber ship and ruffle no feathers. Heath your 100 days is up were is the action plan? Earn your keep or we gonna kick the can down the road Broadie. Ann CLark was the best candidate CMS had in its face and chose this knucklehead.

Anonymous said...

I have some power words for you, "I QUIT!"

Over 20 years of teaching experience with nothing but asking me to do more with less without any benefits or compensation from CMS. Good luck to all the pricipals that can bully all the young teachers, but you will never get back the Highly Qualified.

Anonymous said...


There is much power in selling Amway door to door.

Anonymous said...

21 Century Barf Words:

Diversity, stakeholders, LEADERSHIP.

What's up with every high school student needing leadership skills? How many 17 yr olds are truly equipped to lead anything? Apparently, I could have gotten into Princeton with the amount of leadership experience I had in high school. Like, holding down a summer job (as the french fryer leader), being captain (leader) of the cheerleading squad and serving on (leading) the Prom committee. I also lead (as a leader) a collection drive of stray dogs and cats that my parents eventually took care of. I was first flute in band which I guess made me a leader in the wind section when I wasn't smoking cigarettes with the drum major (also a leader) on weekends. The president (leader) of student government turned out to be a jerk although he probably did a good job leading keg parties in college.

Anonymous said...

May I add "highly qualified" and "effective" to the list?

Lord willing, "innovation" was last year's power-word flash in the pan.

"Blockheaded" is always classic and timeless.

Anonymous said...

The only thing HEATH leads is Publictity Parties and the path down the Black Hole called education funding. Gone in another 4 years with another MILLION dollar pension.

Now thats empowerment Barney!

Anonymous said...

That's all folks.

I'm off to fill out an employee "engagement" survey.

Anonymous said...

NOTE to thse who believe in truth at CMS. "The ones who hate you for telling the truth are most often the ones living a lie."

NOTE to those who comfortably lie at CMS,"Look what your mama raised. Your lies bring dishonor to you brought to light or not" Just one more antacid to get through the day?

Someone in a supervisory position the day I started at CMS told me that certain leaders at CMS like to do things wrong. He then asked me what would I do when expected to do things wrong? I said I would leave CMS. Luckily I had the freedom to leave and left.

Heath does not have far to look and probably knows who may appear credible, but lies. Words matter.

Organic extrement or a pile of @#$%. A lie is a lie is a lie.