Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Shifting to Common Core - Building the Plane While We Are Flying It

With all the change that needs to occur in the educational culture of Ohio between now and 2014-2015, we, as educators,  can not afford to wait until the last minute to shift our professional thinking, our evaluation plans, our assessment methods, our grading practices or our course content.  This reality has left teachers and administrators throughout the state trying to figure out different ways to "build the plane while they are flying it".  As I take time to reflect back on all of the discussions, workshops, articles, conferences and parking lot conversations I have participated in over the past year, I have begun to identify the plane parts that really need to be in place going into the 2012-2013 school year.

The Fuselage - every plane needs a solid body to attach the parts to.   In our district the "fuselage" is made up of the administration team, the k-12 curriculum teams, the grade level teams, course departments, tutors, and support staff.   As we move into next year, we need to make sure that these groups communicate effectively, have the right data or information they need to make decisions and have adequate time to collaborate.

An Engine - In order to keep moving forward, a plane needs an engine to provide the energy to keep it up in the air.  Energy in education comes from innovation and the sharing of ideas. I think there is a misconception that new ideas come from only new teachers.  It has been my experience that sometimes it is the more veteran teachers, who have a solid understanding of classroom management and their curriculum, who are more willing to try new grading ideas, new assessment ideas, and new approaches to teaching.  We have a lot to learn from each other as content shifts grade levels, we adjust to teaching content to a greater depth or with more rigor, and we all shift the way we think about how to assess and support student learning.  The more reading we do, the more conferences we attend, the more websites we use for resources, the more we collaborate...the more energy we generate for our district.

A Tail - Some of you might argue that wings are more necessary than a tail - but remember, we are building the plane as we fly it.  The tail provides stability and direction for the plane.   There are two pieces to our district "tail".  First, we need to take a good hard look at the data that we have available to us to make decisions that impact student learning and growth.  Then, we need to decide what additional data we might need and how to collect it.  Secondly, we need to work together to build a revised set of district level SMART goals, that can be used to drive building level SMART goals that can be used to create classroom level SMART goals.  These goals will help to keep us on course as we move toward 2014-2015.

As we  all pack up our classrooms and look forward to summer break, we need to pick one of these parts that we are willing to spend some time thinking about over the summer and come back with new ideas to share with each other.

Have a WONDERFUL summer break!  It has been my pleasure being part of the Bay Village team.
Check on my blog over the summer, I will continue to share ideas and resources.

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