By guest blogger Leanne Link, communications assistant at the Center for Teaching Quality
This month's Teaching Ahead participants tackled the tough topic of the Common Core State Standards. The teachers found much to be hopeful about, including:
• Opportunities for Collaboration: Nearly all the teachers mentioned the potential for national collaboration that the standards could bring about. As Jessica Keigan suggests, teachers should "accept this challenge and see what great things can come from sharing our classroom expertise."
• Focus on 21st-Century Skills: Sarah Henchey notes that the Common Core emphasizes skills, such as writing, that will help students thrive in the 21st century. Lauren Hill and Ali Crowley highlight the standards' focus on critical thinking and depth of skills, rather than breadth.
• Student-Generated Learning: Todd Rackowitz points out that the standards will mean shifting traditional classroom organization: the teacher will serve less as a lecturer and more as a facilitator and coach while students complete task-oriented work.
Roundtable participants also realize that the success of the common standards will hinge on how they are implemented. The teachers recommend:
• Discussions, Not Scripts: Sarah Henchey writes that successful implementation comes from discussions among teachers, administrators, policymakers, and community members, rather than scripts handed down to teachers. Jessica Keigan notes that the Common Core is an opportunity for teachers to lead, grow, and reflect on the profession.
• Helpful Curricular Tools: Ali Crowley reflects on how tools created by the Mathematics Design Collaborative have helped her to boost rigor and depth in her classroom.
• Meaningful Professional Development: To teach the standards well, teachers want effective professional development that relates to classroom practice. Linda Yaron suggests that teachers lead PD sessions for their peers.
• Appropriate Assessments: Todd Rackowitz underscores the need for assessments that match the standards. Multiple-choice standardized tests can't accurately measure the skills Common Core emphasizes.
More thoughts and suggestions? Add them to the comments section below, and make sure to come back for next month's discussion on parent involvement.