Saturday, October 6, 2012

Another change opportunity . . .

You may not have known, but yesterday was World Teacher Day.  The day is sponsored by UNESCO  and is intended to raise awareness and appreciation of teachers and the teaching profession across the world.  It does not, however, seem to generate much publicity or action in our country or at least in our area media.

On this day, we call for teachers to receive supportive environments, adequate quality training as well as ‘safeguards’ for teachers’ rights and responsibilities...We expect a lot from teachers – they, in turn, are right to expect as much from us. This World Teachers’ Day is an opportunity for all to take a stand.

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General

I shared this same quote yesterday afternoon with the elementary teachers who were meeting at the high school for an introduction into the Common Core State Standards and our district's plan to place our students in position to be successful when new assessments aligned with the standards are implemented in 2015.   On a day when I would have preferred sharing only our appreciation and admiration for what teachers do we were also sharing this new demand placed upon us when the state signed onto the Common Core initiative.

I can capture the gist of my message in three pictures.

When we are placed in a situation that requires change as the Common Core will do, we can choose the mental model that we bring to the work.  The mental model one brings will determine the effort and commitment put forth to learn about the standards and ensure that instructional practices are aligned with providing young people with the opportunity to experience success.

The decision by policy makers at the state level to embrace the standards has placed us in a difficult situation.  At a time when we would prefer stability in the targets that young people and we are held accountable to, we must once again begin the curriculum alignment process.  As we learn more about them we see an opportunity to support all young people in being prepared for post high school learning and work.  The standards are also supportive of our Outcomes and Indicators, providing another reason for a positive mental model that views this initiative as an opportunity to better meet the needs of our students.

This significant change that has been placed upon us outside our system will require change on the part of adults.  More importantly, however, in 2015 our students will be taking new and different assessments to determine if they meet these new and rigorous standards.  In the room yesterday, I saw faces of adults that care about the young people in their classrooms and know that we have the responsibility to provide the experiences necessary for our students to be successful on these assessments.  Because of this commitment, I am confidant that the adults in our system will be able to suspend negative assumptions and bring the energy and commitment necessary for a successful transition to the Common Core.

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