The Common Core Standards are freaking me out.
There. I said it!
What I really mean is that I’m slightly freaking out over the fact that the Common Core Standards conversation is happening…in all the wrong places.
What do I mean?
Well, I hear Superintendents talking about ‘em. I hear Curriculum Directors talking about ‘em. I hear principals talking about ‘em. I hear instructional coaches talking about ‘em.
But I don’t hear an overwhelming number of teachers (the ones who actually DELIVER THE DANG THINGS!) talking about them!!! And I don’t think not talking about the Common Core is the teachers’ fault!
Side note: It’s common that, given a new, fandangled implementation of something in education, we forget to bring the teachers into it. And this fact is the very reason we get frustrated about money spent on reform – we forget to bring the teachers and their practice into the discussion so there’s not much change in the classrooms. It’s the bane of existence in public education. I mean….DUH!
We have a chance to transform our collective instruction in ways that we never have before so that we can catapult our students to success in ways we never have before! Or we can choose to just do business as usual while we wait for the pendulum to swing the other way. Take one guess as to which I’M going to do!
Here’s where we’re starting the Common Core conversation with the TEACHERS WHO WILL ACTUALLY ADJUST, CHANGE AND DELIVER THE INSTRUCTION TO THE KIDS!
Step 1: Read the standards from the top to the bottom and back up again. Sounds super simple, I know. But just do it. They’re awesomely set up.
Step 2: Focus on ONE CHUNK of the Standards. No – not two. Not all of them. Just one. I like to focus on the one domain that we’re closest to implementing – something about being “almost there” makes me feel accomplished!
Step 3: Comb through – okay, who am I kidding…SCOUR, OBSESS OVER, LIST, DISCUSS AND FUSS ABOUT – your current curriculum. Figure out where you’re directly teaching that domain. Figure out where you’re indirectly teaching it. Write all of these things down somewhere and guard it with your life.
Step 4: Analyze where you are teaching the domain well, where you’re kind of teaching it and where you need some major additions. Write this down and guard it with your life.
Step 5: Then start to plot a big picture plan for the school year of where you’ll continue doing what’s already in your curriculum for that domain. The focus on where you’ll need to make some adjustments for the weaker standards in that domain. And finally plot where you’ll add opportunities to teach, model, practice and apply that domain through the year so that you’re geared to end-of-year mastery.
Then come back and read next week’s article where I’ll lay out how to design lessons/assessments for these things you’ve added, tweaked and obsessed over…