I entered the teaching profession hungry to learn how to be a great educator and ready to become the next National Teacher of the Year! I watched Stand and Deliver, Freedom Writers, Dangerous Minds, Lean on Me, and Dead Poets Society, just to name a few. I was ready!
As LeBron James says, “Nothing is Given. Everything is Earned.” Regardless of your feelings on LeBron, it is important for our young people (well, all people) to internalize this life lesson.
Most kids spend at least 13 years in a K-12 school setting. Be it public, private, or charter—13 years of a similar setting can get a bit redundant. 13 years of at least 7 hours a day is also a significant amount of time. Many kids spend just as much time with their peers and teachers as they do with their families at home. As such, it is critical that we intentionally plan for scaffolded privileges and freedom throughout their school “careers.”
With Instagram’s latest #10yearchallenge and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signing executive orders to abandon the PARCC test, I found it only fitting to do a Common Core version of the challenge.
So, let’s travel down education’s memory lane to 2009 with the state-led effort (48 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia) to design and implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Per the Common Core State Standards Initiative website, “State school chiefs and governors recognized the value of consistent, real-world learning goals and launched this effort to ensure all students, regardless of where they live, are graduating high school prepared for college, career, and life.”
Teaching is hard! As teachers we work with young people whose bodies are changing and causing them feelings that are difficult to understand. Their minds are curious and questioning, including questions like, “Why is this important to learn? Will I use this? Why do I have to come to school?” Teachers are constantly juggling investing students in the learning, managing classroom behavior, creating a positive classroom culture, and teaching the content to kids with different abilities.
As the polar vortex is creating record lows and cities are experiencing the harshest cold in years, be certain your classroom climate doesn’t mirror this event. Instead, create or infuse a climate of JOY in your classroom as we head into the spring. Think back to a lesson you were taught in school that you still remember. What did the teacher do to make it stick?
For K-12 educators, the spring semester is PACKED with state assessments, holidays, end-of-year field trips, benchmark or interim assessments (i.e., Common Assessments, NWEA, interims, STEP/Fountas & Pinnell/DRA), spring break, unit or module assessments, mid-module assessments, spring concerts or performances, and did I mention daily or final assessments? For many of us, simply reading this list is exhausting — imagine staying organized throughout the process! Due to the sheer amount of “goings-on” in the spring, in my first couple years of teaching, I often found myself planning day-to-day, having stacks on stacks of papers sitting to grade (thus mostly trusting my gut on daily mastery instead of graded evidence), and getting to the state assessment hoping and praying my children would do well.
I have some good news!
Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share some best practices on MEANINGFUL data collection (what to collect, how to analyze it efficiently, making adjustments based on the data) and giving students feedback so that they own their knowledge and learning.