Saturday, June 22, 2013

How Will Common Core Based Instruction Change Classroom Practice?

At various times during the summer, the vast majority of teachers will start prepping for the start of the new school year.  This activity will more likely than not go on a few days a week for several hours at each sitting. Why do teachers do this?  Teachers (including me) want the new school year to start off on the right foot with no lost time preparing students to have a successful year under the common core framework.

So, though teachers will still be able to hold on to probably 90% of what they taught in the past, they will need to reflect on new ways to cover the material.  A "less is more" approach will probably be the most effective since teachers will be able to go into far more depth in instructional delivery than in the past.  THAT is a good thing for in the past most teachers were forced to take a mile-wide 1 inch deep approach to instruction due to the pressure of meeting state standardized mandates for student performance in their districts.  Start selecting material that really inspires you--the type of material that you wished you had had more time to spend on but pressures being what they were, you could not do so.

Here are some suggestions which might provide some support in planning for the fall.  Remember that these suggestions are only that--suggestions:)

1.  With the support of administration, create a group of willing colleagues to do collective planning across disciplines to develop lessons.  This way students see, for example, that key academic words are not limited to just one discipline, but instead, will surface in all content classes.

2.  Locate teachers seen as model educators who would be willing to have a open door policy so that teachers can see what model common core lesson delivery looks like in practice.  At my site, 22 of my fellow staff members will also be delivering professional development workshops throughout the year as well.  This approach has the potential to be far more effective than bringing in outsiders to do the same.

3.  Ask administration for time to meet monthly with teachers who share the same students.  Why?  With this approach, a team plan can be created to best meet the needs of struggling students (especially English language learners).  Such meetings often times present different viewpoints on student strengths and weaknesses.  With such knowledge, the team devises agreed upon strategies to tackle student academic needs and monitor progress as needed.

4.  Build into the school day, tutoring support for students who are having a difficult time in their academic classes.  Provide primary language tutors along with content teachers if possible.  University students who plan on becoming teachers would be an excellent resource to tap here.

Here are some additional thoughts on preparing for the major changes coming to classroom practice from Harvard's Graduate School of Education.  Check them out and see what works for you:)



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