If we are to bridge the sometimes cavernous gap between policy and practice and move closer to the promise of a premier education for all our students, the voices of successful educators must be incorporated into policy development from start to finish.
In the rush to apply quick-fix solutions to very complex problems, the voices of those most knowledgeable about how to best educate kids in mathematics (teachers, math specialists, teacher educators, and researchers) often get drowned out by the masses who are not in the education field, but have strong opinions nonetheless. The result is a misguided attempt at reforming the way we teach math in our country.
The Sword of Damocles has once again been raised. Unfortunately, today it hangs over the head of the American teacher. For many educators, these are the times that try men's souls. Teachers are not only faced with the challenges of implementing new learning standards and evaluation models, but must also take care of the physical and emotional needs of every student under their watch.
What will happen to society if education reform continues to rush past students, only to bear-hug standards?
I have a bit of problem, to be honest with you. I am addicted to teaching. I can't stop thinking about school. My mind is constantly thinking about new ways to organize my lessons, challenge my students, and help improve student engagement. The list goes on.
In addition to my "day job" as a literacy coach at Miller Park Elementary in Omaha, NE, I serve in several teacher leadership roles that have provided me great opportunities to bridge the world of practice and policy. I have attempted to succinctly organize some of the bigger ideas I am working on.
I loved teaching and never saw myself in any other role. However, as life evolved, and mentors guided me, it led me to paths I had never imagined. I had unique and wonderful opportunities that were extremely entrepreneurial as education leadership positions go. And all too rare.
When I was in the classroom, I yearned to have a colleague who knew my curriculum and could counsel me in literacy practices and effective and efficient technology integration. A peer who understood adolescent development and would problem solve by my side. One who could talk through the intricacies and complications of guiding students through analytical research. A collaborator and innovator to help push me deeper into my own practice. I was looking for somebody who had superpowers, and she was nowhere to be found.
We have all heard Common Core bashing. Statements like the Common Core will "undermine student individuality, teacher autonomy, and mark a dangerous takeover of local control." Unlike many of the Core-bashing voices, I am a classroom teacher with actual experience teaching with Common Core, and I beg to differ.
As a teenager, I was in a band. Well...technically, I was in the band. Anyone who has survived high school can tell you that there is a huge difference. Guys in a band get gigs, friends, and dates. Guys in the band--they get punched.