Thursday, November 28, 2013

Teachers: The Great Ones Will Be Great

This year marks a major change for most schools in California. Schools are beginning the transition to Common Core Standards. This is undoubtedly difficult for some teachers and parents to embrace as the standards will be significantly different in their intention. The Common Core Standards focus on higher level thinking, analytical reading, project driven instruction, technology based assessments and a focus on depth of content rather than breadth. In other words, students will be asked to think differently and produce work unlike what they have for the last ten years. As a result, there are, and there will continue to be harsh criticisms from the public on the move to Common Core. However, this move, like all education reforms will not stop the "Great Ones" from teaching our students.

Common Core is not different from the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) days in that it is a politically driven push to positively impact change in education. The primary intention of the advocates for Common Core is to raise accountability without compromising high level learning in the classroom. Either way, it is a mandated movement that requires the majority of schools in our state and most others, to play the "standards game." Despite all of this, I am here to tell you that none of this matters to the "Great Ones."

When I say the "Great Ones," I mean that teacher who could teach students effectively with a stick and a rock. I mean the teachers who find a way to make their class fun, challenging, rewarding, and inspiring all at the same time. This is the teacher who holds students accountable, makes them feel important, drives them to be curious, and motivates them to work hard. I am talking about the teacher who we remember and will always remember. The great ones are the teachers who focus less on curves and more on skills and experiences. We have all had a great one and our lives have been enriched because of them.

I am a believer in using technology to its maximum to enhance the learning experience in schools. I have seen awe inspiring things going on throughout our country with the use of technology. I am amazed at the tools by which we can create and learn in this day in age. However, technology alone will not teach our students effectively. We need great ones to do this. Great ones use the technology to support the approach they have already been mastering. Great ones see technology as a means to an incredible end. They recognize that technology can make their teaching style thrive even more and they realize that they cannot abuse it.

Great ones have begun to shift the teaching and learning model. They understand that students need to explore, create, design, and solve on their own with the teacher as the guide. Great ones design projects and assignments that force the students to stretch their skills but they are there to support them when they need it. Students benefit from this collaborative atmosphere and gain skills that will help them vastly in this day in age. Because we all know that the work force that awaits our children is much different from the one we faced out of school.

So what does this have to do with Common Core? Well, Common Core is not the answer or the problem we should be pointing to. Technology alone will not make our schools improve. We should be worried about finding and molding the great ones. The great ones will adapt to the Common Core and make it effectively their own without  compromising the great learning experience of their students. The great ones will use technology effectively because they realize our students need to know how to use it for their success. The great ones could be dropped in any time period and make a difference in our students lives.

Are you a great one? Do you know a great one? What are you doing to help support the great ones? Common Core is the reality that we face as schools. Some think that is a great change in our schools. Others think is not the best time or the best model to shift to. However, our biggest concern will always be looking for the great ones to teach our kids. Leading is

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