It feels good to take on a different format of writing with me writing this blog, I am not going to lie. It has been over a month since my last post. I have been extremely busy writing the book and submitting other pieces for publication. The good news is that I feel as if the home stretch is here or at least near. Recently, I have been doing more reading on the Common Core State Standards and simply listening to people have discussions on the curriculum as a whole. After listening to some teachers rant and rave, completing some reading that left me shaking my head, I can’t help but ask anyone who is willing to listen, what is all of the complaining about, really?
I want to begin by mentioning how my state (Michigan) and some other states are trying to now “back out” of implementing the CCSS. Why you may ask? Quite simply the fear of losing local control or state control of schools or so it appears that way. This is one place I shake my head from side to side. Let’s be rational here, the federal government is not trying to take over our schools. Let’s think about what one of the reasons the CCSS was developed. One of the reasons was to have consistency within schools on what is being taught. Does it have higher demands for students? Yes sir! Is it going to be more work on our part as teachers? Yes ma’am. Not once have I ever thought the Common Core was designed for a hostile government take over of any school.
Next, I want to address the parent (of a different school from where I teach) who threatened to take their 3 children out of the school their children attend if the teacher or district tried to use the Common Core as the curriculum. I will be honest with you, I didn’t react to the parent in a hostile manner when I was listening. I just listened. After their ranting and demoralizing of the CCSS, I asked one question. What do you not like about the Common Core? Their answer: It is too hard for my children and too demanding. On the inside, I was screaming, but on the outside, I politely said thank you for sharing your concern. To me, their response summed up why I see the work ethic I do today of some students, including the ones that I teach. Some students (and parents) don’t understand they have to work hard in school! It isn’t just about socializing or sports. Furthermore, those students who may struggle a little, are probably going to have to work even harder. Wow and yes that does suck! Should I be teaching work ethic in my class too? Oh wait, I think I do!
Now, I am not saying the CCSS does not have flaws, because it does. However, I really like what the Common Core is trying to do for our students. Here are just a few things I notice:
- Engages our students with more informational text.
- Causes our students to have higher level thinking skills.
- Consistency across states with curriculum.
- The ability for flexibility on how we teach the skills that need to be met.
- Students get engaged in all 3 genres (narrative, informational, argumentative.
While I notice the positives of the CCSS, the one gripe I will make public here is the little it says about students reflecting on their own work. Reflection is key for student improvement in whatever they do. As a matter of fact, it is a life skill that is essential for growing as an individual. I have to constantly reflect all the time on how to do a better job with my students.
With that being said, I can strongly say the CCSS is not going away anytime soon. Though we don’t have to embrace it like a big fluffy teddy bear, it is no reason to toss out the emergency S.O.S. life belt.