How today’s teaching looks to a teacher from yesteryear….
Lately, I have been reflecting on my own years (15) of teaching in light of what we’re asking / telling teachers to do today. For example, when I taught AP / IB literature and composition, I had to do many preparation activities to make sure lessons were focused, well organized, and engaging. One of the most challenging prep. activities involved finding the ideal combination of materials to accompany and buttress the lessons to be taught. One of the reasons this was so difficult was that neither The College Board nor the International Baccalaureate Organizations provided texts, or a set of materials for teachers. They simply provided examples of success (i.e. model essays and former assessments). However, while this made it more challenging for me as the teacher, it sent two important messages to me. 1) My students’ needs and interests should drive what happens in my classroom and 2) someone trusted that I had the knowledge, skill and will to do the syntheses / sense making work needed to develop focused, well organized and engaging lessons.
In some ways, I see the Common Core as creating a similar teaching and learning context for all teachers, not just AP/IB teachers. There are definitely some good things about this, for example the two items I listed above. However, there are also challenges. For example, my classes of AP/IB students were much more heterogeneous in their skill and will to do the work in my class. That’s not the case in most classes where Common Core instruction is occurring.
In closing, articles like this one show how today’s teachers are doing that synthesis / sense making that once was expected of only “certain” teachers: those who taught the “top” classes. The question is, are we providing teachers with the support (time, tools, expertise) to do this difficult but rewarding work? If we don’t, we should not be surprised when they believe in the notion of holding ALL students to high standards, yet they feel overwhelmed by the actual implementation.
In common-core states, nearly all math and language arts teachers are at least somewhat reliant on materials they’ve developed or selected themselves, according to a new nationally representative survey.
Where are teachers Getting their Common Core Aligned Instructional Materials? http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2016/02/where_are_teachers_getting_their_common_core_materials.html