Saturday, November 16, 2013

Why I Agree with Common Core Standards and Teacher Evaluation

I know this post has the potential to cause a lot of backlash and disagreement. I am owning that, but I feel like some things need to be said. This is MY opinion, feel free to agree or disagree. Also, understand that I'm not agreeing with CCSS 100%, but I do see some benefit in certain areas.

 1. Student Centered Classrooms - I believe wholeheartedly in students having ownership in their learning and Common Core is allowing that to happen. Empowering students with this piece of their education will do far more good than bad further down the road. Students should be talking in classrooms instead of sitting and getting information from one person. Students should be taught to question the credibility of sources, content, even the way that instruction is being delivered. They should have a voice. Common Core is moving classrooms into this realm of students analyzing their own work, providing feedback to others on their work, asking questions about relevance. I want to live in a world where people learn to question instead of just doing what is told.

 2. Multiple Strategies to One Answer - Life in the real world is messy, let's admit that. There are many, many ways to solve one problem, and there is not one that is greater than the other. If a student uses a strategy that takes more time than a traditional algorithim, but gets the same answer, shouldn't we be okay with it? I've taught Common Core Math for 4 years now, and I've seen my struggling students who struggle with math succeed with place value models and other strategies. When their understanding is solid, they then progress to the traditional method of multiplication and division. Am I okay with it? You better believe it. I want my students to succeed and not be penalized because of not using the same strategy. We are a world of diverse learners. No one learns in the same mode, so why do we teach in the same mode?

 3. Communication is critical - I've lived in many different places around the US and taught in many different schools - private and public. There is a need everywhere for effective communication. Common Core puts a huge emphasis on writing, speaking, and listening - all skills that we need to be good at in order to be successful. I LOVE that writing is being put into every subject area! Everyone should be able to make a claim and provide evidence. Everyone should be able to really hear both sides and debate an issue. Everyone should be able to listen effectively and join a conversation. These are skills that are being lost.

 4. Common Core allows for authentic learning - One of my favorite things about CCSS, is that it allows freedom to step out of a textbook and really begin making decisions for the students in the classroom. I think this is the scariest part of the standards because there is no one way to approach them. There is no one resource that will meet all of the needs. However, it gives freedom to teachers to use authentic texts from newspapers, magazines, internet articles that are geared to the interests of their students instead of just being the next story in a reading book. Real world scenarios and situations are knocking on the doors of classrooms and begging to come inside with CCSS. This excites me. I am not bound to textbooks. Hallelujah!

 5. Evaluating Teachers is Necessary - As a teacher, I have been given a HUGE responsibility in educating the young minds of today's world. I know that I am strong in some areas, but others areas need my attention. Evaluation helps me to know where I need to improve. It helps me determine what I need to change to provide the best education to my students. Is it nerveracking? Yes! I get nervous every time, but I value the information that I gain from the evaluation process. Should it be tied to test scores - not completely. I don't believe in hiring or firing teachers based on test scores because that is one day of an entire school year. But, I do believe that we have a responsibility to grow students. If our students are not growing under our tutelage, then something does need to be done. I should be held accountable for that. Teaching is a profession with a lot of pressure and a gargantuan amount of responsibility. In addition to teachers being evaluated, I believe that principals should have to go back into a classroom from time to time to see what we deal with on a daily basis. Those principals should also be evaluated teaching a room full of students. That would definitely add a different layer of interest.

 Now, do I agree with EVERYTHING or the way that CCSS has been brought about, no. But that is a post for another day.

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