So I get around.  Well, what I actually mean is that I get around and TALK to a lot of people!  And I hear lots of talk about the Common Core – it IS the biggest game-changer we’ve had in my lifetime so far, at least. 

When I listen to folks talk about their Common Core journey, they’re either completely panicked or they’re in denial.  Here are some of the comments I hear:

  • “We have been working really hard in Reading and ELA over the past few years, so we are going to start with putting our Common Core emphasis on Math.”
  • “We are so close to ‘getting there’ on our English Language Arts work…we just have a little way to go to get aligned with the standards.”
  • “We’ve got some time, so we’re going to go slowly into the Common Core.”
  • “Our schools/teacher teams are working to align the Common Core to their current materials.”
  • “The Common Core standards are just ‘good teaching practices’ and we’ve been studying that for awhile now, so we’re in good shape.”
  • “We got a Common Core alignment tool from the publisher that shows where the materials we have are aligned to the standards, so we’re in good shape.”
  • “We are going to start our full implementation of the CCSS in the Fall.”
  • “This is mostly a Math and English/Language Arts thing…we’ll get to the other content areas in time.”

Make no mistake: we all have a LOT of work to do and the work is going to have to go beyond “tweaking” lessons.

Whether you’re panicked or in denial, you need to start controlling the Common Core before it controls you…or continues to control you!  You need to save your brainpower and oomph for the work that’s ahead! 

Let me give you an example of a process that I worked through with a middle school in a district that has done a nice job of managing the Common Core.  I think it’s a very sound (albeit aggressive!) process that allows us to step gracefully into the CCSS.  Grace is going to be necessary with this type of endeavor!

First off, we brainstormed everything that they had done already:

Then we mapped out their roll-out plan (this is the preparation and study plan that the TEACHERS will follow to get ready to write their benchmarks, align their curriculum to the core, etc.)

Then we mapped out what professional development is needed to support the staff as they align the curriculum…

All this BEFORE they wrote a lesson.

Are you prepping like this or are you going into the Common Core like you’re whacking your way through the weeds in the jungle?

Here’s the real deal: You can control the Core, but it’s going to take restraint.  You’ve got to get a plan for the TEACHERS before you get a plan for the TEACHING.