So we’ve almost completed week 2 of the new school year, and thankfully I’m back into the swing of things already!
This year our school has decided to adopted the Common Core Standards (CCS) (http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards). At first I was a little dubious, as I’ve taught all over the world and been exposed to some truly horrific standard sets, but after going over them I realized that they could be a positive move.
Now, like many of my colleagues, these written standards represent much of what we’re already doing in the classroom, and reflect much of the pedagogy reinforced in my graduate classes. However, I have a feeling that having things written out in a clear and concise manner will be very helpful as a reference. I mean who doesn’t need to do some modifications here and there…
I also noted that it was extremely helpful for the two new teachers in our school. The standards were “like a university prof. standing at my beck-and-call ready to keep me focused while planning my lessons…” said one of them to me yesterday. I considered this a good thing, especially coupled with real in-class experience.
The change wasn’t a big one for me as these types of teaching standards have been used in Canada at the provincial level for years, but what I did like was that they are clearly expressed with little room for misunderstandings. Canadian Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLO’s) can be a little wordy, and a little vague at times. This is usually fine for the experienced teacher, but for our young staff they can become quite confusing.
In the staffroom we were discussing some of the school districts that have decided to issue lesson plans to their teachers in conjunction with the CCS. From the few stories I’ve heard the lessons, while attempting to adhere to all of the standards, suck the life out of the dynamics of classroom interaction. One such lesson demanded that the secondary school English teacher read a passage from a Shakespeare play in clear monotone, rather than in character, and that they limit associations to past lesson and real life so as not to confuse the students. This I see as a HUGE problem. I’m completely accepting that the school district would want to have a set of unified standards to help guide instruction, however, I am NOT accepting of being told what exclusive resources to use to deliver the standards, and I certainly wouldn’t appreciate being told how to present the information!
My unit plans that I’ve posted here are meant to be resources for teachers to pick and choose from. I fully assume that as educators we all like to do our own thing, and have specific strengths that we work from. My units are designed so that a teacher can take them and integrate them into their practice as they see fit, not the other way around!
Anyways, I doubt our school will try and take things that far, and hopefully yours won’t either.
Have a great weekend,