Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Common core model curriculum design begins in Massachusetts, part 2 and 3

Time Window / Time Slot / Time Bucket / Window of opportunity
Window of Opportunity @ http://www.planetofsuccess.com/blog

Well part 2 and 3 never happened as promised in my long ago part 1 on the initial gathering of teachers, superintendents, and department of education officials concerning the Race to the Top adventure here in Massachusetts.  My apologies.

Since that time and prior to the week long gathering on curriculum and model curriculum development, I have been browsing the web investigating plans to transition and implement the new standards.  I am strangely inspired.  It  seems that these new standards have created an opening for teachers and their expertise in the conversation on ed reform as well as the nature of the profession.  I see this happening for three reasons:

(1)  The scope of moving 44 states to a new set of standards and assessment is a monumental undertaking and must necessarily include teachers to make it a success.  States are reaching out to teachers to hear how this might work and how this can be an opportunity to move struggling schools toward success.  The task is so big that teachers are needed not just so they can implement a passed down policy, but actually to make meaning of it and give shape to it.

(2)  Standards are limited entities.  As Jay McTighe told the group of Massachusetts' educators, "Standards are a building code."  Standards provide the general frameworks that judge a curriculum in order to ensure it is covering agreed upon content and skills, but we can build thousands of different types of curriculum (buildings) from the same set of standards (building code).  Given the emergence of new standards and all the ways they can come to life, states are turning to teachers as experts for helping making the transition from standards to curriculum.   As I'll discuss in my next blog post, it was inspiring to watch fellow teachers from across the state gather and start to think out curriculum.

(3)  Budget shortfalls combined with a renewal of public awareness around education (NCLB, charter movement, TFA, international competition, expense of private education, heightened awareness around special education, pay for performance, the pros and cons of testing, etc.) has created a swell for some sense of change.  Public clamoring for change and the reality of limited budgets has created a window for the teacher to be drawn into making this happen.  This sometimes has the regrettable tinge of blaming the teacher for all ills, but states have also turned to us to make change happen.  We have an opportunity to do more than be blamed.

My next post will be on my experience developing curriculum along teachers from across the commonwealth of Massachusetts--stay tuned!

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