How do you feel about Common Core? Standardized tests? K-12 funding? These are just a few hot ticket items regarding education right now. It is easy to sit and watch the conversations happening in Des Moines or D.C., but how often do you hear experienced educators chipping in on major decisions about what is best for our schools? Maybe you voted based upon your best intentions for education, but I would argue that that isn’t enough. It is so important that we write, visit, and vocally support or disagree with our legislators so that we can continue to pursue greatness in education for the future. Afterall, if we expect students to use their voices for good we must model those actions as well. Get online, get to know the issues and your stance on them, get to know your legislators, write, Tweet, Facebook, email, call, lobby, and anything else you can. Your job is about more than what happens inside your school walls, and you’re responsible for more than just your students. Here’s a start, our President-Elect just chose the new Secretary of Education. You can read a little about Betsy DeVos’s stance on our education system and here plans here, here, and here. Do you agree? Disagree? What will you do with this information?
As the education world continues to buzz around student-centeredness and personalized learning, teachers are stepping away from the front of the classroom and allowing their students to dive in head first and take control of their school experience. These are huge milestones which are monumental in our move away from traditional classrooms and toward a system which better prepares students for their futures in our workforce. BUT… (you had to know that was coming) I’d like to push us a step further. How many of your students know what iowacore.gov is and why we use it? I’d like to argue that the Iowa Core doesn’t need to be a secret, but instead should be used as a tool in our student-centered classrooms. Here’s why:
Students, like us, want to know why.
Maybe showing them the standards the state sets will help them understand the “why” or maybe it won’t, but here is a first step which eliminates the middleman (you) and helps students be held accountable for their performance.
Speaking of the middleman, why do we need one?
If we are truly student-centered, why does the teacher need to hold anything a secret? What is so bad about the students being involved with the whole process. I’d argue that giving your students all the information from the get-go gives them that much more of an advantage as they think, explore, and learn in your classroom.
Who is it really all about anyway?
You’re not gaining anything from keeping this information to yourself. Nothing. Nada. Relinquish control. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
Face it, they're more creative than you anyway.
Your students, like it or not, probably have better ideas than you some of the time. If you hide the end goal from them (whether you realize it or not), you’re sacrificing those totally awesome, out-of-the-box ideas which rarely come from a seasoned educator. Their ideas may need some coaching, redirecting, or (hopefully) could even need to be reeled back in a ways, but there’s no harm there, and in fact that’s what you’re there for! My point is, your ideas aren’t always the best ideas, so why not give your students ALL the tools to get the very most out of their school experience?
Accountability. Accountability. Accountability.
It’s hard to hold someone accountable for something they don’t understand. How can you expect your students to meet standards they don’t know about? Give them all the information in the beginning, and use that to push them further. Set the bar high.
Your tech-savvy students won’t need help navigating the easy-to-use Iowa Core sight, so there’s nothing stopping you from letting them in on the secret. Why not? Here's a video from Palisades Community School District about their approach to personalized learning. Once you've watched, how can you take something like this and better help your students understand the why? Try showing them the CORE!
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