After speaking to a group of teachers in Indianapolis some months ago, one teacher approached me after the inservice and expressed concerns about how much time, energy and patience understanding and implementing CCSS was going to take. "This is going to be a real grind!" she said. Let's hope she's right.
One of the key aspects of a good school, district or diocesan-wide implementation plan is that it should be a grind. A long, slow, methodical, painstaking grind. Despite what you might read or hear, there's no easy fix. No single textbook series, webinar, in-service experience, web site, or model lesson plan is going to get this done for us. Sure, check out the Basal Alignment Project, Achieve the Core, and the host of other resources that provide insight about CCSS implementation. Certainly these can be helpful! However, you and your colleagues have to figure out CCSS for yourselves! How does it work in your classroom, with your students, with your routines, and with your approach to unit and lesson planning?
If you think back to those times in your career when you've improved most as a teacher, isn't it because you've chosen to dig in, experiment, observe and discuss and collaborate with colleagues? Be weary of those who claim that, for years, they have been teaching in a way that supports CCSS. I'm sure these teachers are out there, but I tend to be skeptical. Regardless of how successful you've been as a teacher, CCSS gives us lots of opportunities to take a look at our own teaching and assessment practices and make improvements.
Amy Coe Rodde and Lija McHugh of the Bridgespan Group recently authored a report that speaks to the importance of the CCSS grind. The report, entitled Building the Missing Link Between the Common Core and Improved Learning, highlights the stories of leaders and teachers who embrace the idea that a successful CCSS implementation plan takes time. The authors note that "the practices and experiences [of these people] provide a model for others determined to ensure that the Common Core becomes more than just 'a poster on the faculty room wall.'" It's worth a read.
In the next post, I'll propose some suggestions for how administrators and teacher leadership teams might begin the effort toward successful CCSS implementation.