For the first time in our nation’s history, geography will not determine the academic expectations for students. Students will have access to rigorous and relevant instruction that will prepare them for life after high school. Whether that be college or career, the skills and outcomes needed to be successful are shared. That’s such a powerful and to some frightening thought.
This isn’t to say that great teaching, and therefore important learning, hasn’t been occurring, but using any data set you like, drop-out rate, remedial courses in college, etc., etc., WE have not been doing enough to meet the needs of all our students. The primary philosophical position of the Common Core State Standards is that the totality of a long series of student experiences that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards will ensure college and career readiness. This idea is one that has seemed lost in the sidebar conversations about testing and evaluations. Let’s not lose sight of the real purpose of the Common Core Standards.
The magnitude of this effort does not fall solely on the shoulders of Math and ELA teachers. The beauty of the CCSS is that not only were they created to help every student in our country achieve, but they also clearly articulate the disciplinary literacy skills in Social Studies, Science, and the Technical Subjects necessary to achieve college and career readiness. The Math and the ELA teacher cannot carry the burden alone. It will take all of us engineering highly-effective experiences to meet students where they are in the learning and then propel them toward the destination we want for every child.
From my experience we have not worked intentionally enough on developing the whole sequence of rich experiences needed by our students, but there are examples emerging from amazing classrooms across the country. Like science teacher, Tricia Shelton’s 5e’s approach. In her classroom, students develop a nimbleness of mind to dance with the wonders of science while also applying important markers of communication, thought, and speaking skills. When classrooms make this fundamental shift, parents recognize the benefits in their child. Jamie Hawn, a parent in Tricia Shelton’s classroom, sees the impact in her own son’s learning.
While this is a small sampling, as I work with teachers across the country, I’m consistently hearing teachers and parents share their own success stories. Our roles as educators is to continually support and nurture growth, both in ourselves and our communities. With tools like the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) and the Math Design Collaborative (MDC), teachers are engineering meaningful educational experiences for students so that we can accomplish college and career readiness.