Thoughts on the Common Core from a Public School Teacher

Parents:

I've seen the Facebook posts and editorials and commentaries regarding the Common Core over the last year and have remained silent on it this entire time. However, I feel that it's time to give you a little bit of information straight from the source regarding what it is, what it isn't and what it looks like in the lives of your kids during each school day that we have together. 

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I'm not going to get into whether or not I agree with Common Core standards because that is not the point of this letter. 

I can tell you one thing for certain: One single educational policy is not going to transform the state of education today. We all know that. 

The Common Core State Standards are challenging. Each standard is designed to be a target for curriculum development; to instill higher-order thinking; to set the bar high; to prepare students for college and career readiness in terms of writing, communication and hard work; to equip them with skills that will set them apart in the workforce and that all comes through having a target to work towards. I have never worked harder to develop rigorous curriculum at a high standard as I have this year working with the CCSS. 

And the thing is, we differentiate those standards to meet the needs of all of our students. We look at your kids through a lens of uniqueness. We're not robots conducting our classes. We don't bow to the master standards planner and administer mundane tasks to check a box off our list of rote requirements to cram into a 50 minute class period. We're teachers. We do what we do every single day because we care about your kids. 

What the Common Core Is:

The Common Core State Standards are a set of grade-level learning objectives and standards that several states have agreed to align their curriculum to in order to promote consistency and prevent disconnect when students move from one state to another regarding what they've learned. 

The Common Core State Standards are tools we are using as educators to provide a foundation for the curriculum we're teaching our students at their particular grade level, to design rigorous lessons and promote higher-level critical thinking and organization skills. 

The Common Core State Standards are lesson objectives that make their way into meaningful units we've already designed with your students' unique needs in mind. 


What the Common Core Is Not: 

The Common Core State Standards are not delivered by robots. 

The Common Core State Standards are not delivered by idiots.  

The Common Core is not a be all, end all solution to solving the world's educational problems. 

The Common Core State Standards are not pointless, meaningless, ridiculous or hopeless. They're harder than any standard I had or learned when I was in school, that's for sure. 


What the Common Core Standards Look Like in your Students' Classes

In my class you'll see a number of things happening on a weekly basis. You'll see:

  • Students sharing about their weekends, what they had for dinner, and what sports games they played the night before. (I care about this, because it matters and makes them who they are.) We believe that at the center of our classroom is our students. Unique kids who have different talents, interests, beliefs and learn from one another as they interact in a diverse setting. 
  • Studying classics such as The Giver, The Outsiders, Stepping on the Cracks, Harrison Bergeron, The Cay, and more. We believe that reading is essential for your kids' growth and success academically in so many ways, and literacy will always be first and foremost in our classrooms. 
  • Students explaining the "why" in their thinking, instead of filling in the blanks and matching multiple choice answers. We want to see that your kids have learned. If they haven't we're not going to pass them over and say "too bad." We're going to have the opportunity to re-teach it to them so they can catch up and show that they know it. 
  • Generating ideas, revising, editing, revising some more, thinking critically, revising some more, and then publishing on current technology available to them {Google Drive, Google Docs, WordPress, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, etc.}. We want your kids to learn the current technology available in the world so that they have experience when they enter the college and career phase of their life. 
  • Talking  with one another about various topics with higher order questioning and thinking such as "analyzing," "evaluating," "hypothesizing," "proving," and "demonstrating." We want your kids to really own their learning and understanding and make meaningful application of it through different tasks and activities. 
  • Showing in multiple ways that they know something at their grade level, rather than just saying that they do or correctly guessing on a test. We want to make sure your kids are ready to move on to the next level.  
  • Presenting their ideas in writing with organization, correct spelling and grammar, concrete ideas, varying sentences, and on clean and neat papers so that they can be proud of the hard work and effort they've done. We want your students to be competitive in college and the working world through their writing and editing abilities, and this starts at an early age. 
  • Students working hard at the tasks provided to them and being proud of their accomplishments. Practicing giving feedback and critique to their peers; providing constructive criticism and giving authentic praise when it's necessary. Learning to communicate with one another openly and working with people they don't have experience working with. 

There are so many things that we believe are important for your kids and our students to learn in our classrooms each day in order to be successful in life and in the working world. Writing, communicating, spelling, grammar, critical thinking, editing, setting goals, organization, being a good friend, being a respectful classmate, being a responsible citizen and so much more. The Common Core State Standards integrate themselves into what we teach, but not how we teach. We create rigorous, creative, meaningful and engaging tasks on a daily basis so that your students are supported and held to a high standard in the work that they do in school. 

We are teachers. 

We are not robots; We are not puppets. 

We care about your kids, want them to succeed and the Common Core State Standards are one tool that we use in our repertoire of resources on a daily basis to support their academic growth and success. 

If you would ever like to see these lessons in action, please feel free to stop by our classrooms. We'd love to have you. 


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