All right my fellow Super Colleagues- it's time to dust off those soapboxes, pour yourself a refreshing cocktail and let your opinions be known!! A set of potential national standards (for literacy and math) have been released and are up for public commentary until April 2nd. Granted the public commentary is in the form of a survey (on which you can choose to provide general or specific feedback), but still you can make your opinion known. You have to scroll down to the bottom of the main page to find it. Although who really knows what will ever happen to these opinions? Will they be considered as much as the opinions of policy makers who have never set foot in a classroom since they themselves graduated from school? Will the results of this survey be make public and the subsequent changes made transparent? My guess is no, but I'm hoping yes. I guess it's easy to be optimistic when I have a cup of coffee in me.
However, before we really get going...what do y'all think of a set of national standards in the first place?
I have yet to form an opinion. (gasps from the crowd) I know, I know - Mrs. Mimi ALWAYS has an opinion, a gut reaction which leads to verbal vomit and some name calling here on this little old blog of mine. HOWEVER, I am trying to see both sides of the coin on this one. (Plus, my internet BFF and fellow blogger over at Notes from the School Psychologist implied that perhaps, with all my recent ranting, Mini Mimi might pop out carrying a wee little picket sign. Point taken, friend, point taken.)
I've grown. I'm trying not to "Just Say No" which is something I think I can do (as can many others) too quickly. (Although I think I'm ultimately leaning towards no, I still want credit for not immediately jumping to no.)
I mean, at least someone outside of a classroom is doing something other than firing teachers and thinking about ways in which they can dodge responsibility, right?
Okay. I'm thinking in the PRO column we can place the idea of having a common language to talk about our goals for students in each grade across the country. It would make our conversations here in the blogosphere, which is often between teachers around the country, more productive, I imagine, since we could trade best practices toward similar goals. At the very least, perhaps it would help us avoid this little problem:
Me: Honey, we've been working on telling time to the quarter hour in our classroom. Do you know how to tell time to the hour?
New Student From Another State: *blank stare*
Me: Did your old teacher talk to you about the clock?
NSFAS: *blank stare*
Me: (reaching for their student file...what the hell does standard 2.12 mean? What test is this?) *moving file to pile of papers and making mental note to do some research before remembering just how long my to do list really is and realizing that no, I will probably never get to this*
Okay, can you show me which hand is the hour hand?
Or really, are these national standards just a smoke screen and states are going to be punished for not adopting them? Is a national canon of texts soon to follow?
Must...stay...open...minded...At least for the
In the CON columnn, I'm sure a lot of teachers are nervous about the idea of re-working their curricula to align with new standards. I hear that, but I also taught in a school where we changed our social studies standards and units every year since no one could freaking agree and thusly, have learned to embrace that sort of change. Teaching three different word study curriculums over the course of three years will definitely make you, um, flexible, yeah, we'll say flexible for now...Also, I'm sure a lot of teachers are going to say that these standards are limiting, but as long as they are used as a common baseline, why not go above and beyond meeting your students' needs as you soar to great educational heights?
As long as adopting these standards doesn't mean more tests are added to our already full plates. Oh Lordy - can you imagine the testing possibilities?? Somewhere, some douche in a suit is drooling, I'm sure.
A quote directly from the core standards draft: "...[T]here are multiple ways to teach these standards, and therefore, there will be multiple approaches that could help students accomplish the goals set out in the standards." I think this idea is what I like best of all. The standards (so far...and according to this piece in the NY Times) don't come with a prescribed or mandatory curriculum. Is that a glimmer of hope that we will get to actually choose our own individual paths for teaching these standards? Is that what I see in the distance? Teachers sharing best practices yet still being allowed to maintain their own individuality? Work their unique teacher mojo?? Or am I kidding myself and we're simply a sleigh ride away endorsing a national curriculum that would render us all automatons? (Again, douche-y guy in a suit is now jumping up and down.)
I read them over (focusing mostly on the standards for lower elementary since that is my wheelhouse) and didn't find them totally offensive or way out of line. One of my biggest concerns (besides being handed a national curriculum in a few years or the possibility for endless punishment that seems to go hand in hand with government involvement in education these days) is that teachers will be encouraged to plod their way through the standards whole class style instead of meeting groups of children where they are and making sure they all make a year's worth of progress. In my mind, making a year's worth of progress can be vastly different from all reaching the same end point in June.
I'm also left with some questions. How are these standards going to be used in terms of grade retention/promotion? Are teachers going to be inundated with all sorts of new ways to keep track of these standards which really means are we going to be handed a stack of new paperwork to fill out that will keep us from our teaching?
I would love to know what you think. National Standards - Jedi Mind Control Trick or It's About Time?