As you may already know, I was recently given the opportunity to be a guest blogger for PlanbookEDU.com with a focus upon the Common Core State Standards. This is a huge area of interest for me since it's a) brand new and b) people are freaking out about it.
I haven't been a teacher for a super long time. The 2012-2013 school year will be my 7th year in the classroom. Within those years, there have already been tremendously huge shifts in education (some good, some mediocre and some downright awful and scary). Common Core is, in my not-so-humble opinion, one of the GOOD things. I will wait for you to finish throwing your tomatoes. C'mon.
No? Okay. (Whew! I hate tomatoes anyway!)
In all seriousness, I DO think a national set of standards (or near-national since not all states have picked up the CCSS) is vital to changing the learning in our country. Why? Simple. Our economy has had such huge shifts in the last decade that transient families are almost as common as families that stay put for their childrens' entire K-12 education. If I start school in Michigan, should the curriculum be that vastly different if I move to say, Florida or Nevada? I don't think it should. In years past, however, it has. (Sometimes moving across the STATE meant a huge shift in the learning that took place. I shall not allow myself to get started on that one. *I am pushing my soapbox into a corner so I am not tempted to climb up on it.*)
I made a promise that when The Oldest started kindergarten, she would STAY with ONE school system until she graduated from high school because it was a stability I never had growing up. I married The Husband when she was 5 years old and just starting kindergarten. We have lived in our teeny little suburban village since then. She is now a senior in high school. (Oh.My.Gosh. Did I just type that??) The Littles are changing schools this fall, for a variety of reasons I won't go into, but they are now going to be attending school in our home district. The very one that The Oldest has gone to school in since kindergarten. I already know the curriculum from their old school to their new school is vastly different. These schools are about 10 miles away from each other.
W-R-O-N-G. (Oops...may have put a toe or two onto that soapbox...sorry!)
It isn't the point of this post so I'm not going to go there. (I kind of want to though--can you tell?!) Every single child, regardless if they need to move schools, for whatever reason, has the right to be taught the same things that every other child is learning. I'm not saying hand us all a scripted program so we can be robotic and not think. Absolutely not! I AM saying that we need creativity in the classroom as long as the standards are 100% the same in every single school. I guarantee you that I won't teach the American Revolution the same way the teacher next door will. As long as we both teach those standards, however, it doesn't matter how we approach it. That's the entire point, to me, of the CCSS.
I have made it my MISSION to know these Common Core standards like they are my life. They kind of are. New standardized tests will be developed to align with the Core; shifts in accountability will come from the Core; my evaluation and your evaluation will be tied to these standards and tests, et cetera. When I was given the opportunity to write about the Common Core for PlanbookEDU, I jumped for joy (I really did...yes I am lame. Please don't click the "unfollow" button, okay?).
I had a ton of fun writing my first entry, probably too much fun. Because I have passion for this. It's FINALLY something that is happening in education that I can get behind and say YES! I agree. This is great! Is it daunting? Yes. Confusing? Double yes. A wee bit overwhelming? Triple yes!
That doesn't make it bad. It makes it better, I think. It will force us, collectively, to look at what we've done in the past. What was working? What wasn't? And WHY. That's the million dollar question folks. Three little letters: WHY.
I am a Common Core maniac. So much so that I have downloaded, printed, correlated and put together information for myself about the Common Core so that when I walk into my classroom, I know exactly what I need to do. These standards are my new road map. Reading Street and Everyday Math are NOT my curriculum--they are my resources. I have finally gotten my mind wrapped around that. I am responsible for ensuring my students are taught the 4th and 5th grade Core Standards. If Reading Street or Everyday Math don't match up, then it's up to me to make sure that I supplement (isn't that what we do anyway? Isn't that why TeachersPayTeachers and TeachersNotebook are SO popular?).
Be a Common Core Maniac with me. We'll learn, grow and change together as we figure out EXACTLY how to make sure OUR kids are the BEST and BRIGHTEST they can personally be.