Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Legend of the Teacher

Now that I'm able to blog again, one thing that has been taxing my thoughts is my school's ongoing switch to the "Common Core."

{A little background}
My school has always (at least as long as I've been here) had learning objectives for each class.  Since we are a private Catholic School, we've had the freedom to set our own objectives (in collaboration with the other Catholic HS in our diocese).  Although we used the state and national standards as a point of comparison, we were free to write our own objectives for the course.  The good thing about this was the freedom to mold the course the way we as teachers wanted it to be.  The downside was that we had to meet every five years to edit and revise those standards.  Over the last year or so, our diocese has decided to adopt the Common Core standards as they emerge and be in compliance (if that's the right phrase) within the next 2 or 3 years.

So where does "School of Rock" come in? One, it's an awesome movie, so why shouldn't it be there. Two, I think the chorus of the song can be slightly modified to explain some of our struggles with adopting the common core.  I think you have to live the "Common Core" before you can teach the "Common Core."  What I mean by that is, most teachers fall into the trap of teaching how they were taught.  I reading the various posts on education reform, most teachers would agree that there's always some new thing that comes out.  By the time you fully switch to it, the new flavor of the month comes around and now you are to switch the that new thing.

As I interact with teachers, I think they see this switch to "Common Core" as just one of those new flavors of the month.  They see a new set of standards, not a new mentality for teaching.  To me, the shift of the "Common Core" is about changing the dynamics of the classroom.  No longer is my job to be the "Sage on the Stage," but rather the "Guide on the Side."  (Sorry, I forgot from whom I stole that, but it's definitely not mine). 

Since "all" of us have had teachers that were the "Sage on the Stage," they see this new change as just changing what they teach, not how they teach.  As I've gotten more involved in the Modeling, I am beginning to appreciate, what I see, as the true changes for "Common Core."  After going to the modeling workshop last summer, I was able to be a student in a class where the teacher didn't "teach" us anything, but rather created activities, and guided us through them.

I remember talking with some of the other "students"  the first few days about our frustration with the fact that they weren't teaching us the "Modeling Method."  After we got into the 2nd unit, it dawned on me, that the only way to truly teach by experience, one must first learn through experience.  I think that is truly the "Ah Hah" moment that teachers talk about after going to one of these workshops.  It finally clicks that true teaching is in creating the experience and knowing where the tough spots are, not how many cool facts you can tell your students. 

You've go to learn "Common Core," before you can teach "Common Core."

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