Remember the old game of telephone? A small group would be sitting in a line or circle. The first person would whisper a sentence to their neighbor. The sentence would be repeated in whispers one at a time. The last person would say the sentence out loud and everyone would be “shocked” that the message had completely morphed. It was unrecognizable and often had zero connection to the original message!
Take a deep breath, exhale slowly!
Now think of the “last thing” that you heard about the Common Core that “riled” you up. What was your role?
- Did you ask clarifying questions?
- Did you repeat what you heard verbatim?
- Did your listener hear the same message?
Take a second deep breath! Exhale even more slowly this time!
Think about that “irksome” idea(s) from the Common Core. Did you fact check it yourself? Have you read the notes in the sidebars alongside the Common Core Anchor Standards in search of the “truth” about what the Core says? If you have the Core in a Word document, it is easy to “search” for those specific ideas and phrases that seem to be problematic.
I can easily become embroiled in conspiracy theories about the forces behind the Common Core, but I choose not to even go there with this topic. For me, “common sense instruction” and the Common Core is about:
- Taking a step back
- Listening to the question, complaint, concern
- Consulting the document for the answer (evidence)
- Verifying/clarifying my knowledge with multiple sources
- Considering the benefits for increased student learning
This process allows me to move forward on a daily basis as I work to increase my own understanding and help teachers implement the Common Core. As a “thinking” educator, I believe that the potential for increased student learning is limitless under the Common Core, and I want to be a part of implementation with high expectations and high quality instruction!
Is the Common Core perfect? Of course not! However, our students now have the possibility of the same K-12 goals in English Language Arts across the majority of our country. A child with mobile parents may have some consistency in their education for the first time in the history of our country. For children of military families, this new possibility may even make it easier for families to travel from base to base as a family unit.
Implementation of the Common Core is not going to be easy. Some teachers are being asked to “change” the content they are teaching to more closely align with the content of the Core so students are College and Career Ready. Yet, the “HOW” and the art of teaching is inevitably up to each and every teacher every day in every classroom across our country.
I continue to look for the good and “the gold” in the Common Core (Thank you, Lucy, Mary and Chris for Pathways to Common Core!). Some days it may be a bit tarnished, but it’s there! Keep digging! Use your own close reading and research skills to unearth it!
Choose the positive! Choose knowledge and common sense!