This Utah teacher is the dedicated, experienced and compassionate kind we all want for our children. She has a genuine passion for teaching and a sincere interest in the growth of each unique student. What makes her even more special is her willingness to voice concerns about current education reforms –in spite of the negative consequences she has already and will continue to face as a result. She is not willing to say things are perfect or working well when she can see they are not.
The specifics she shares in this video, about how her teaching has been affected and particularly about the professional development, offer insights I hadn’t heard before.
Agree or disagree, can any policy be so perfect to be above discussion or dissent?
Let’s help her voice be heard. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vq2uNDxHoMA
The following is published anonymously to protect the educator(s) who are sharing this information.
“Recently certain teachers were selected to attend Common Core training sessions. We were divided according to subject.
We were subjected to “groupthink.”
We were given an article called “Making the Common Core Come Alive!” It is published by an organization called “Just ASK” and it came from that organization’s October 2012 newsletter. The author of the article is Heather Clayton Kwit, who is the principal of Mendon Center Elementary School in Pittsford Central School District, New York.
The article’s main purpose at the top of the article says COMMON CORE MIND SHIFTS. We had to read part of the article and then answer questions about our “feelings.”
Here are the seven mind shifts we had to read about in the meeting:
1. “The goal of curriculum should not be the coverage of content, but rather the discovery of content.” It goes on to say “If done well, Common Core will elevate our teaching to new heights, and emphasize the construction of meaning, while deepening our understanding of our students.”
2. “A deep understanding of the content to be taught is paramount.”
3. “In our classrooms, it is the students’ voices, not the teachers’, that are heard.”
4. “We are preparing our students to do the work without us.”
5. “We are educating our children for an unknown future.” It also says “these skills can then be translated into new or novel situations, without the teacher needing to guide the work.”
6. “We have a responsibility to help each student reach higher.”
7. “We can’t ignore the evidence before us.” It goes on to say the standards were created using an extensive body of evidence.
The concluding paragraph says, “In conclusion, we have the innate ability to change our mindset if it no longer helps us accomplish our goals. Our current beliefs are grounded in the prior knowledge we’ve gained through our administrative and teaching experiences, our lives as students, and our collaboration with educators. Our beliefs impact all that we do, how we act and react, and the potential we see in others. When we can successfully shift our mindset, we are ready to form new lines of thinking and abandon old habits. By doing so, we have successfully positioned ourselves to do the work required by the Common Core.”
Here are the seven questions we had to answer in writing about our feelings about each mind shift (NOTE: these questions were created by OUR system):
1. How would you explain the differences between the discovery of content and the coverage of content?
2. How would you describe the payoff for teachers who demonstrate deep and flexible understanding of the content to be taught?
3. What do you see as the role of the teacher and the students in a classroom filled predominately with student talk?
4. What benefits to you see for students as we begin to teach them to do the work without us?
5. Why would it be important for teachers to shift their thinking about the purpose and method of their practice as they work with students?
6. How will the standards support teachers as they meet the needs of both fragile and accelerated learners?
7. As outlined in this section of the text, what do you see as important pieces of evidence that can’t be ignored? Why should this evidence be considered valuable.
As you can see, this is what teachers are dealing with. So right now, these “reading coaches” from elementary schools are training teachers to be Common Core people in their schools. [Someone] stated that next year our system hopes to fund 19 Common Core IP’s (Instructional Partners). Some of these 19 will be from the “reading coaches” in elementary schools and some will be selected from the secondary level.
Probably, the people who “shift their minds” the best will be the ones selected.”
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Thank you to the educator(s) who shared this information with us anonymously here.
“4equity2” is the name of a teacher who wrote the following story as a follow up comment on Diane Ravitch’s blog: http://dianeravitch.net/2013/01/13/a-math-teacher-on-common-core-standards/
Another Math Teacher Speaks –
“Today I participated in a math PD [professonal development] held in our state capitol. Before embarking on the actual content of the training session, the facilitator had teacher participants read related Common Core Standards. The quiet was broken by occasional gasps, sighs, and moans before the now oft repeated objections were verbalized.
We’ve read them before. Nothing new. And these were same old criticisms and objections that have been raised in previous math PD’s across the country, for sure.
Next, we looked at a few of the sample test items that would be used to assess the new standards.
The facilitator, wanting to keep us on track, I am sure, said, “Look, this is way it’s going. We need to get used to it, There is nothing we can do.”
Someone near my table called out, “Yes, there is!”
All eyes turned toward me. Did I just say that?
“What?” I was asked. “What can we do?”
“We are teachers, yes. But we don’t have to be passive – play the part of victims. We are also parents and citizens. We can opt our own children out of testing, and we can talk to friends and neighbors about doing the same. We need to use the power we have as citizens – not just teachers – to turn this around.”
One woman raised her arm with a clenched fist, and stated, “I like that!”
These few words from an “invisible” and “voiceless” teacher who has been empowered through this blog and others in realizing that she is not alone spoke out. It felt good. I just might do it again.
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Thank you, 4equity2, whoever you are. We need more teachers like you.
Speaking of which…
Talking to a friend tonight, I heard a sad story. My friend’s neighbor, who is a teacher, said she was recently written up for insubordination, for refusing to attend another Common Core meeting. She said to my friend that “if the government doesn’t get out of our schools, they will destroy them.”