Recently, I read a response post to the changes in federal laws surrounding NCLB on the Stories from School blog by Tom White, who also writes for our Corelaborate blog. Tom’s thoughts on the future of the Common Core started me thinking about all the students who currently are in the public education system, and all those students who will soon be entering our system. What I really started to think about is my soon to arrive daughter, Charlotte, and what she will face in her education world and my hope that we stick with Common Core, whatever it may be called in the future years. And so my thoughts, in the form of a letter…
Like any parent, I have dreams and hopes for your future about what the world will offer you, what you will offer the world, and what we can offer you. One of the most important hopes I have for you is about the educational world that you will inherit. The teachers. The students. The dispositions. The learning emphasized. The leaders.
I hope that you inherit teachers, new or old, who are as excited about learning as the most excited student in your classroom (fingers crossed, that’s you). I hope the excitement and interest is palpable to you. I hope part of the excitement stems from the standards that are being taught as much as from a natural curiosity towards learning.
I hope you inherit teachers who have had a chance to grow in their understanding, tweak to their dispositions, and feel a part of the learning standards and decisions being made about standards. For your sake, I hope that those standards are the standards we see today: Common Core, NGSS, etc. Continually starting over will most likely gift you with teachers who feel stressed out, lost, and jumping from initiative to initiative. I imagine the teacher you will be gifted with, however, if the teacher has been given five, eight, ten years with discussing, dissecting, and developing their understanding with colleagues.
I hope you inherit teachers who see the strength in the Common Core ELA standards and value the learner that results: independent, inquiry-driven, analytical, multi-versed in communication and research oriented.
I hope you inherit a classroom where each and every student feels that they can be a member of the community, unafraid to speak up or contribute to their dialogue. That everyone feels they have something of value to contribute. One of the greatest strengths of the Common Core ELA is the emphasis on using a text or a common artifact to ground learning. If we truly reflect on this shift towards text, one conclusion to draw is that these standards are a great equalizer for students. All students given appropriate access to appropriate “text” can be part of the discussion; background will not determine success inside the classroom.
I hope you inherit a school where teachers collaborate and share the responsibility of your learning. That all teachers see themselves as experts and all teachers see how they are important to your future literacy. Gone will be working in isolation amidst a specific content. Instead, your school will amplify interdisciplinary work and collegiality amongst your teachers. I hope that you, and your classmates, will not isolate your skill learning into content areas. Rather, that you will see that the writing process you do in English class will help your understanding in Social Studies and vice-versa.
Most importantly, I hope that you are given the chance to embrace the inquisitive and independent demeanor of the student written into the current standards.
P.S. If you decide to disown Team Bronte and become a member of Team Austen, Charlotte, I will forgive you. Eventually…