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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Why can't I wrap my growth mindset around the Common Core?



As hard as I try, I cannot stop rethinking, reframing, and seeking information and real opinions related to the Common Core State Standards.  I'm trying to use the growth mindset model to find the positive aspects we can gain from the intention of the Standards.

From afar, I can see this as just another bad political/business decision for children that we will have to fix, yet again, as soon as we get enough "data" to prove its ineffectiveness.  It is historically cyclical.  However, up close, this is really going to damage an entire generation of brilliant, creative, exuberant minds - oh, and the students, too.  Well, really, mainly the students.

But seriously, even I have fantasized about finding my "next" career.  How can I affect children in a different paradigm than the elementary public school classroom?  That is the saddest commentary ever.  I adore teaching.  I have always adored teaching.  I grow to love it more with every single student, even the toughest -- usually because of the toughest!  It is genuinely one of my first and greatest passions.

This week I have been reflecting on a comment from another teacher during a workshop I attended.  This comment was made by a high school teacher who had recently become the new chair of his department.  That's all I will reveal to keep his identity anonymous.  He had been patiently listening to many other attendees express the fatigue, frustration, and time-sucking problems associated with the new Student Growth Objectives and related paperwork relegated to us by the State.  He said he had to comment or he was going to "burst".  Basically, his opinion was that he was tired of everyone seeing this so negatively (venting and complaining).  He thinks the unit design/planning, data collection, team action planning, and directed focus are all great positives that have come from this Student Growth Objective mandate.  He was tired of the "whining" of those negative viewpoints. He believes we should all be seeing the positive in this.

Well, at first I felt offended.  The room silenced and you could hear crickets chirping.  So I wasn't the only one feeling confused.  This was a positivity leadership workshop yet I felt as though I had just been admonished and had my hand slapped.  How dare he act so pious.  What happened to sharing his viewpoint, not demanding its "obvious" positives to those of us who just "don't get it".  Okay, a bit too far.  But that was my initial reaction.

Today, I'm glad he said that.  It has made me think deeply about my current opinions, both why I hold them, and why he may hold his.  That is the key to a growth mindset! Here are some of my thoughts.

First, he is right!  For a high school teacher, this must be a wonderful model.  It takes the growth of students, uses the data to monitor and adjust, and then drives further instruction.  High school subject areas have direct curricula with essential questions that can become more measurable.  Their pool of students is a larger group to draw conclusions from the empirical data.

However, this already has been the model for decades, at least for the two that I have been teaching.  The difference is, this is done at the local level with assessments created by those who read and interpret the data - us.  The state does not need to be involved in this process.  The high-stakes state testing and mandates will not give anyone unique or more information.  Standardization for the reasons of comparison is impossible with children.  There are too many variables to consider, poverty being the greatest malfeasance.  That is another whole blog post.

Second, he is wrong!  For those of us at the elementary and middle school levels, child development was not even considered in these college-ready based Standards.
"...the Common Core standards were “backmapped” from a description of 12th grade college-ready skills.  There is no evidence that early childhood experts were consulted to ensure that the standards were appropriate for young learners.  Every parent knows that their kids do not develop according to a “back map”—young children develop through a complex interaction of biology and experience that is unique to the child and which cannot be rushed.  -Carol Burris from "A ridiculous Common Core test for first graders" http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/31/a-ridiculous-common-core-test-for-first-graders/
As much as I want to find that positive lens and "just go with it", I can't.  We all have to be vigilant for our students.  If we accept this as the status quo, if we accept that the Common Core State Standards are here to stay, we accept that it is right and a reliable source of valuable information.   We have to convince them, we are the experts, we are the champions for our students, we are their voice.  This is not right.  It is not what our education system needs to succeed.  In fact, it sets us up for failure once again.

So I am particularly grateful to that high school teacher/department chair.  He forced me to reexamine why I held the pillar that this trend in education was disastrous for our students.  I am sure (for now) that it is.



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Education, standardization, reformation, revolution, transformation, evolution... frustration!





"The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn't need to be reformed -- it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions."   Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

I had just seen a fabulously inspiring TED Talk (Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion) suggested by a colleague and was looking at the other suggested TED education talks. I have seen a few of Sir Ken Robinson's commentaries and a TED Talk of his before. He has many to choose from. He is quite an engaging speaker and always keeps my interest longer than anticipated. This title of his really intrigued me, "Bring on the Learning Revolution!" (from 5/24/10).  I am always wary of that word; revolution. Hmmm... learning revolution. This was worth a listen. 

Ken Robinson speaks of people finding their authentic self, the search for who they are. Human communities depend upon a diversity of talents. Not a singular conception of ability. Yet, education has dislocated many people from their natural talents. Human resources, he states, are like natural resources. They aren't just floating there on the surface for us to find, lying around. Some are even buried deeply. Often you have to go looking for them ardently with purpose. This is not the current educational model, in fact, often quite the opposite is true.

Then, he really piqued my interest. He said, "You have to create the circumstances where they [people's talents and passions] show themselves." This reminded me of my recent post about the interview with Dan Pink referring to his new book, To Sell Is Human. He asserts that as salespeople (as we all are - trying to move people), we must create the context in which it is easier to move people. In other words, we must make it very accessible for people to act. How can we create the context in which our students can find their passions?
How can we create conditions where kids' natural talents can flourish? Do we know our true passions? Are we willing to go on that journey ourselves?


Innovation is hard. But that is what we need. Sir Ken Robinson says we need a complete radical overhaul, a transformation. Innovation challenges things we take for granted. It's very difficult to know what you take for granted, he reveals. His theme seems to be that we cannot fix the current broken system therefore needing this complete transformation, hence revolution. 
That may be true but that is one extreme end of the continuum.


I'm a teacher. I'm practical. I want to do this. But how? How do we completely transform the current model of education in our country? We need to start somewhere. I will tell you what won't make a difference -- standardizing and testing our students (and teachers!) to death. This is the other extreme end of the paradigm. This is what our political and business end of education have decided to do and have pretty much instilled without funding or proof of its efficacy. Were educators involved in this? But of course not. Are educators involved now, after the fact? Yes, they are working educationally to fix the business model forced into place, again. Square pegs in round holes, again. See the articles relating to The Common Core at www.audreykfriel.blogspot.com. We know this model doesn't work. We have tried this before, more than once, and failed miserably each time. 


So what do I do in the meantime to facilitate the learning of my students preparing them for the next century workforce? How do I at least begin to create the conditions for them to find their passions and use them for the highest and deepest levels of learning?  How do I help to begin this paradigm shift?

Sir Ken Robinson suggests moving from our current industrial model of education to an agricultural model of education. Human flourishing is organic, not mechanic. But the outcome cannot be predicted. It is just like the farmer, he says. The farmer can only create the conditions in which the crops will begin to flourish. How they grow is up to many variables. Each one needs personalized attention and guidance. He suggests customizing education based on a personalized curriculum. This would include a complete overhaul of the current model. That is just as unlikely to happen right now as is for the standardization model currently being forced upon us to turn out successfully.

So, we need some places to start. We need anchors. These anchors work with what we are given (demanded) to do in a way that can encourage students to explore passion, risk, resilience, perseverance, and grit as a way of learning. We have to use what we have now as we continue to build the scaffolding for the evolution. This is always how educational change has happened over time, and always through the teachers.

One example of using this kind of "growth" model could be shown through Dr. Gravity Goldberg and her associates (http://drgravitygoldberg.blogspot.com/). Her model is doable in schools, right now. It's a start. It's a way of looking as what we have and deciding which part of the scaffolding needs to begin at the bottom. You can personalize any lessons to each student through starting with the larger group. She refers to this at the 3 T's -- Teach, Tend, and Tether. She uses a gardening metaphor because it is about helping living things to thrive. Does this sound familiar? 

Teach is the first step. We teach students the lesson we intend for them to use/try. This part of the model can be the group model as we know schools to be right now. This may be the section where the teacher can have the most control, considering the imparting of knowledge. Subsequently, however, the teacher should also use the students' prior knowledge to enhance this part of the lesson. 

Tend, the second step, refers to making sure each student has a grasp on the essential questions of the lesson. Tending to the students as you send them off to try this great information you presented is when you can modify and adjust. This can also be done in the current model of schools. In this section, the teacher gathers information to determine which students will need which levels of support to facilitate the next step, tether.

Tether, to me, is the key. This is where teachers need to let go of most of the control and let the work (and student) speak to the way in which we facilitate. Dr. Goldberg asserts:
Many plants in a garden need to be tethered to a trellis, beam, or other plants to help them grow. The tethers are connections that can either help or hinder growth. As a gardener, you can’t just look at each individual plant on its own, but you need to step back and look at the whole. Is there enough space for each plant? Are some plants shading out others? Are plants connecting in ways that work (tomatoes and basil thriving together), or are some plants taking over others?

This is the personalization.  We, educators, have always used this model.  Recently one hot word for it is differentiation.  In this model though, using tethering as differentiation means giving each student everything he/she needs for that area of study.  Sometimes that is facilitating by stepping back or by linking two students with like interests, or finding experts and sources to utilize.  Luckily, I work in a suburban area that has smaller class sizes (for now) and an appreciation for learning styles and teaching styles (for now). We offer many services that cater to students' individual needs (for now).

Yet even we, the lucky districts, need guidance and support. We need coaching and mentorship. This will help to create that imperative growth mindset. This forges a new form of questioning. What else can I do to help this student learn to find his/her passion? How do I hook them into being vulnerable enough to dive in to a place of new and unfamiliar territory? How do I make my classroom, my garden, a safe place for all to flourish? How do I become vulnerable enough to let go of some of that control and be seen myself

Recently, at a special education meeting for a student of mine, a colleague referred to my classroom as a "soft place to fall." Wow, what a compliment. I will always remember to keep that feeling in my garden for the school year. That is, by the way, the only kind of gardening I do.

“It's not about what it is, it's about what it can become," Dr. Seuss, The Lorax.




Saturday, September 21, 2013

Is there anything a growth mindset can't do??

Tonight I listened to Heidi Grant Halvorson interview Carol Dweck (9/20/13 at 5:20 pm www.entheos.com/The-Science-of-Thriving/Play).  It was mainly geared toward her incredible, anchor book, Mindset, but included an amazing amount of thought-provoking, intense, new information.  This work never disappoints!

One of the pillars of Dr. Dweck's work reveals how praising success and intelligence for our students, and our children, is always done with the best intentions. Those with the fixed mindset thought this instilled confidence. But instead, this causes the receiver to worry about making mistakes. So they are less willing to try anything they aren't "smart" at.  This curtails achievement and learning. There is no reason to take any risks.  Failure is not an option.  It even creates fixed mindsets, therefore perpetuating the negative mindset.

Do praise the process. The strategies. The effort. The practice. The focus. The improvement.  Errors are a part of learning. They make them (us) persist in the face of adversity.  It is the second full week of school and I can hear that I have made a change in my own dialogue.  I know this because I hear my young students already saying, "You can do it, try!"  And, "Dare greatly!"  And, "You will grow your brain no matter what!"  It's simply contagious.  It is not only contagious with the students, but it is contagious to other professionals around you as well.

Thursday night, I went to my son's Back to School Night.  I always think the teachers must be like - ugh, two teacher parents.  But truly, we love the process, all of it.  So the best story was when one of his teachers told us the following:
The student sitting next to our son was tired and just done with academics.  It was a hot day and it was after lunch.  We will call the other student Bobby.  Bobby threw up his hands, put his head on his desk, and said, "This is too hard.  I can't do it!"  My son turned to him and said, "Yes you can, Bobby.  You can do it!  You can!  Right, guys?  You can do it!"  Wherein all the other students started chanting his name in unison, "Bobby, Bobby, Bobby!".  Bobby was so excited to have all of his classmates paying attention to him and giving him encouragement that he finished the rest of the day with effort and joy. 
Stories like that are by far more important to us as parents than any grade, report card, standardized test, college choice, etc.  Our son knows empathy, effort, caring, and how to bounce back.  Let's just shortly say he was born as a micropreemie at one pound seven ounces.  So having these imperative qualities at eight, is beyond words.  But that is a whole other story in itself.

"The Trouble With Bright Girls," is a piece written by the interviewer, who has worked under, with, and next to Dr. Dweck, published in The Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heidi-grant-halvorson-phd/girls-confidence_b_828418.html).  When studying "bright" girls and boys at the beginning of learning new or big concepts, bright girls were overwhelmingly afraid of not being perfect.  The higher the IQ, the more likely the bright girls were to give up.  "If that becomes your paradigm for life you are finished," asserted Dr. Dweck.  Bright boys, on the other hand, saw this same instance as a challenge and energizing.  Similarly, when studying Theories of Intelligence within a culture of genius, this continued. If it required raw intelligence, natural ability with no effort, then there were fewer women in the field.

As a society we think genius equals born this way. It's just not true.

People often ask then, how can so many people with fixed mindsets be so successful?  Answer; it only takes you so far. It creates worry and the need to always be top dog superstar. Better to ask that person what has it kept them from? What have they shied away from? What haven't they tried?  What did they see someone else try that was "crazy" but secretly wished they had tried it?  What do they wish they had tried?  To be good they think they have to be better than someone else.  It keeps them paralyzed. 

The Khan Academy studied a quarter of a million participants about how math students were praised (http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/09/11/03mindset_ep.h33.html?tkn=OMMFBUpoZuQwY4qvMMvS1tu%2BEpDD9iqQZV0U&cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS1&print=1). The main difference was in what educators would say to students as feedback.  When they said things like, "When you put effort into a math problem you grow your math brain," and when they signified that effort equals further and future successes, there was a significant raise in immediate success and subsequent success.

We are all a combination of both mindsets. We constantly have to monitor ourselves.  Just being aware of this, changes our mindset toward growth.  For me, this was an "aha!" moment when I started studying Carol Dweck's work.

When you are ready to begin to change a part of your fixed mindset into a growth mindset, Dr. Dweck has some pointers for how to begin.  First, start talking back to that voice in your head that discourages you.  She said phrases that Brene Brown would call practicing gratitude when you forebode joy.  Or that shame and fear make you worry either of two things; (1)"who do you think you are?" or (2)"you can't possibly ____."  This talking back is the beginning of changing those brain chemicals.  It truly is the science component of this area of social psychology.

Next, add the word "yet."  "Yet" turns the fixed mindset into the growth mindset. Try it with any of your fixed mindsets.  Mine would be, "I am soo not forgiving... yet."  Setbacks will sting. It's about what you do next! In the long run it pays.

Whether it be parent, teacher, or CEO, you are always learning.

Dr. Dweck and her colleague James Gross studied Israelis, Palestinians, and extreme sides of each group (http://news.stanford.edu/news/2011/september/israeli-palestinian-conflict-092711.html). Obviously, there was intense intergroup conflict. It was clear both in the first survey and the repeat survey that the more they held a fixed mindset, the more they hated the other side, and the more resistant they were to change. The researchers taught the growth mindset to these groups  and they were overwhelmingly more willing to entertain more compromises and even talk with each other. This held true just as much for the radicals as the moderates. Now, they are developing long-term, constant interventions for hope toward the future.

It's a shift in perception that things can change.

Is there anything a growth mindset can't do?



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Life of a salesman... that includes You!

Tonight I listened to an interview of Dan Pink about his book, To Sell Is Human (http://www.entheos.com/The-Science-of-Thriving/Play)(9/16/13).  Of course, some major gems from him.  I thoroughly enjoyed and still often revisit his book, Drive.  So this different view on things was quite thought provoking and so many connections are still forming.

The crux of his theory to me seems that we are all salespeople.  Now, salespeople having a pejorative effect on most, is the old way of viewing this.  The current view is we all want to move people.  That's sales.  It is the change from problem-solving to problem-finding that is the greatest shift in the paradigm. This is fascinating!  His example was that there is a lightbulb out in his office.  He needs someone to fix it or he can find the kind of bulb information and fix it himself.  He does not need someone to find out what the problem is.  He already knows that.  And he can gather information readily  to replace it himself.  So then there are the problem-finders.  They think, "What could we do in here to make the lightbulbs work better.  Or maybe they can become obsolete." "How can I illuminate this room without lightbulbs at all?"  The interviewer smartly added, "Half of the innovation is finding the question."


This is such a different mindset.  What an interesting way to view things.  This paradigm shift now reminds me of those students who struggle so in school but see things in a different way.  They are generally the "tinker-ers" - for lack of a better term.  They like to try things out and reconfigure over and over again until it works.  Maybe this is their regular paradigm.  If I try to see things from their problem-finding mindset, they may come up with new learnings for us all.  That seems to be what occurs each time I "grow" an old fixed mindset of mine.


Dan Pink used the term buoyancy.   It seems to me to relate to resilience.  Being able to remain buoyant, one must bounce back from failure and adversity over and over again.  This leads to a person having more resilience and therefore, according to current research, leads to a more fulfilled, inspired life.  Brene Brown calls is Wholeheartedness.  Carol Dweck may refer to this as using a growth mindset.  I think the key to resilience is learning from the experience, whether it be successful or not.  The response to failure, fear, or shame cannot be, "I'm not going there again." It's tempting.  But then the experience merely fixed our mindset and proved we were right.  We say why bother?  But we were wrong!  Bounce back!


Finally, Dan Pink refers to giving people an "off ramp."  He tells the interviewer this means that I say to myself, "What can I do to make it easy for someone to act?"  What context can I create to make this more easily available so that more people "buy in" to my "sales pitch?"  How can I move them.  Move people by giving them an off ramp.  This way we are not using the traditional methods of trying to convert the individual.  Rather, we are changing the situation or the context instead.  


In my teaching career, maybe an example of an off ramp for my students is when I ask a student to do me a favor which really is an assignment or enrichment or even social skills/character education lesson.  Then whatever it is, most are happy to volunteer, being elementary students.  Then, all of a sudden, others want to do it, too.  I have created a situation where students willingly volunteer for work/tasks with zeal.  As this concept still confuses yet fascinates me, I will continue to research the meaning of this further. 


As educators, as Dan Pink concurs, we are constantly selling ourselves, our knowledge, and our wares all day, every day. We sell not only to our students, but to our colleagues, our administrators, our families, and friends, too.  Just think of how many opportunities we have to "move" people?  Wow, what a gift!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Short and sweet tonight...

"Much of the beauty of light owes its existence to the dark," Brene Brown, Daring Greatly. Kind of like I say a lot - that if it weren't for school, there wouldn't be the thrill of the summer!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Common Core’s fundamental trouble


This detailed article yet again reminds us as educators, those on the front lines, actually in the classroom, that the Common Core State Standards are not the "how" you teach.  In many K-3 cases, it's not even the "what" you should teach.  Developmental age versus numerical age is grossly broad in every single elementary public school classroom universally.  This is the cornerstone of child development and has been studied and restudied throughout the decades.

So, how do we distinguish between politics and real education?  As an educator for over 20 years, sadly I feel I have very little to share on this.  I want so badly to ignore the politics.  I want to just do what I know is right and works for kids, which, by the way, is different each year as new classes are different each year.

But, we can't bury our heads.  Then it is an affirmation that what is happening is okay.  We say, "You are right," by saying nothing.  The authors assert:
... by very publicly measuring the test results against benchmarks no real schools have ever met, NCLB did succeed in creating a narrative of failure that shaped a decade of attempts to “fix” schools while blaming those who work in them. By the time the first decade of NCLB was over, more than half the schools in the nation were on the lists of “failing schools” and the rest were poised to follow.
In reality, NCLB’s test scores reflected the inequality that exists all around our schools. The disaggregated scores put the spotlight on longstanding gaps in outcomes and opportunity among student subgroups. But NCLB used these gaps to label schools as failures without providing the resources or support needed to eliminate them.
The tests showed that millions of students were not meeting existing standards. Yet the conclusion drawn by sponsors of the Common Core was that the solution was “more challenging” ones. This conclusion is simply wrong.
Analytic data reviewed by educators and action plans put in place?  I think not.  Politics.  Plain and simple.  Let's not forget the business part as well.  The two major companies and the special interests that are funding and publishing "guides" and "workbooks", you guessed it, not educators either.
Unfortunately there’s been too little honest conversation and too little democracy in the development of the Common Core. We see consultants and corporate entrepreneurs where there should be parents and teachers, and more high-stakes testing where there should be none. Until that changes, it will be hard to distinguish the “next big thing” from the last one.
As usual, as professionals, we will continue to do the right thing for our students while trying to appease the "new" recycled ideas of our very shrewd politicians and businessmen.  Who, by the way, must have had some excellent teachers.

The Common Core's fundamental trouble

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Reflections of yesterday and anticipations for tomorrow...

I have such mixed emotions today.  I'm sad the summer is done.  I'm exhilarated that summer was so healthy and wonderful.  It was filled with memories of play and family and friends and adventure.  Yet, I'm looking forward to "routine" and my son getting back to one!  I'm glad I won't hear, "What is the PLAN today mommy?" every 5 minutes.  But at the same time I will crave to hear it again tomorrow. 

I am excited to meet my new class.  I'm reminding myself they are just second graders still and I should not scare them too much -- I can be loud and a bit on the sarcastic side!  I feel super prepared and completely unprepared at the same time.  I wasn't sure that could even be so.  It can.  I can't wait to see the new clay I get to help mold and model.  Connection.  That's the only thing they really need from me tomorrow.  To connect.  Without that connection, all the "core" we give them goes nowhere.

Tonight I remember one of my favorite expressions; You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.  BUT you can salt his oats and run him hard!  We continue to salt their oats and run them hard.  Somehow in between, we give them love, safety, laughter, joy, gratitude, confidence, and on and on.  But the one most important things we give them, in my opinion, is the safety to try new things, fail at them, learn from them, and then try again.

The following quote from Carol Dweck's, Mindset may be the pinnacle of what I strive for my son and from my students every day.  It's a lofty challenge.  It's the most worthwhile and satisfying challenge ever:

"If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.  That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise.  They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence. This may be especially important for children with learning disabilities.  Often for them it is not sheer effort that works but finding the right strategy (176-8)."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

'Differentiation and Grit': An excerpt from "Fostering Grit" by Thomas R. Hoerr, his forthcoming short-format ASCD Arias publication.


How Do I Prepare My Students for the Real World?

This brief excerpt by Thomas R. Hoerr, describes differentiating not only for academic areas, but for teaching students "grit".  This can only be done at their emotional learning level, the cornerstone of ALL learning.  Hoerr states, "...teaching children how to respond to frustration and failure requires that they experience frustration and failure."

The goal here is to provide learning obstacles that give some level of frustration to the student.  Frustration and fear of failure often keep students away from these tasks.  This can be especially true of "bright" and/or "talented" students.  Their fear of inadequacy can be petrifying.  These tasks can be given through process, content, and/or product.  Then we offer them strategies to handle this frustration to get on to the next part of their current area of work.  As they build the strategies that work for them, so they too build grit.

How do WE respond to frustration and failure?  I believe this must be our first question before we teach grit to anyone else.  Beginning with a growth-mindset (Carol Dweck, Mindset), we can study our own reactions and how we can foster our own grit.  It takes courage.  We would want others to help us through it with care and empathetic responses.  Having been through that self-exploration, we can then offer that same feeling of care, empathy, and eventually trust to our students.  (Brene Brown, Daring Greatly)

Fostering grit is what our future workforce is looking for.  How we respond to frustration and failure is imperative to success and happiness (Daniel Pink, Drive).  It is how we grow both as humans and as a workforce.

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?  What's worth doing even if you do fail?  Isn't it worth a try?


'Differentiation and Grit': An excerpt from "Fostering Grit" by Thomas R. Hoerr, his forthcoming short-format ASCD Arias publication.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

About vulnerability...

So, during a book group discussion I was invited to this evening, we discussed being vulnerable and what that means.  We were discussing Brene Brown's Daring Greatly

As the new school year begins, how do we make ourselves vulnerable so that we can allow our students to do so as well.  Vulnerability relies on trust.  So we need to have our students trust us and our classroom community.  This is no small feat as we are all have the fear of looking inadequate. 

We need to jump in trusting that our students will allow us to be vulnerable as well.  As a third grade teacher, I find this might be easier than that of a middle school or high school teacher.  But that is just a guess.  Often it is the teacher personality and fear of judgement that will keep him/her at arm's length.

Another book club member suggested starting slowly. This seems like good advice, especially to those of us who jump in with both feet often before checking the water.  However, we agreed that we need to be honest.  Kids know when our stories hold even a grain of falsehood. 

So, dare greatly this first week of school.  Let your students see you... even the part that is not in control all of the time and even makes mistakes occasionally!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Why Common Core? Politics, as usual...

You can decide for yourself, but this is just another way to quantify schools for political purposes.  It's been called different names over different decades, yet the end result, always the same; new name, new test, same ole politics.
How Common Core Standards will succeed — even if they don’t

Common Core... K-3 input anyone, anyone...?

"In all, there were 135 people on those panels. Not a single one of them was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional."

A tough critique of Common Core on early childhood education