For the first time in my seven years of teaching, I got days off of work for excessive heat. With this time off, I was able to reflect on how things are going so far in my classroom.
I’ll give you a little background information on the two classes I currently teach. I have four sections of 8th grade math completely aligned to the Common Core; as far as I can tell anyway. I also teach a section of Algebra, which I try to align to the Common Core, but the class feels much more traditional, although I am trying to incorporate more inquiry-based learning.
So far, I really like the results I am seeing with my 8th grade class aligned to the Common Core. Through my formative assessments, reteaching, and interim assessment/retake, I have all but six of my students at 80% or higher, which I am calling “proficient.” The six students that are not proficient are either ELL students or in my enrichment class, so they are getting the extra interventions that they need. My students are also discussing their ideas more and more and are open to critiquing or expanding upon someone else’s ideas. Overall, I’m very happy with fewer standards and spending more time on concepts.
My Algebra class has been more difficult to get a feel for because we are trying to teach out of a textbook that is in no way aligned to the Common Core. These students are being prepared to be placed into a traditional Geometry class next year. I struggle with this class because it is difficult to find hands on activities that will help students learn how to combine like terms and how to rewrite equations using the distributive property. However, as we move through the course and begin solving equations, I will be able to work in more authentic tasks for students to work through and discuss.
During my time teaching the Common Core these first three weeks, I have also gotten some feedback from a few parents about how they feel about the Common Core. The only negative thing I have heard so far from a parent was through their student. The student told me that their father believed they should be getting 20 practice problems a night and only having two where they had to explain their thinking was “dumb.” I did explain to the student that I feel if you can show me that you know how to do two, you probably don’t need to do 20. But, I also had two other parents contact me and tell me they were excited for the change because they felt that change was necessary. One parent also felt that the changes will help her son who has struggled in math in the past. She felt that through discussion with his classmates, he will see where everyone is coming up with their answer, instead of just getting it out of the blue.
I feel that I should conclude with some important information. I attribute much of my attitude and success thus far with Common Core to the building I am in. I get time to collaborate every Monday with the other 8th grade teacher and we have also had time during early releases to discuss timelines, assessments, successes, and failures with the Common Core. The other teachers I work with seem to be embracing the change and discussing their ideas with everyone else. The leadership in my building is also very excited about Common Core and supports the staff in all ways. If you want to have success implementing the Common Core, I feel energetic, inspiring, innovative leadership is the key. From talking with others, without that type of leadership, the change will be difficult and frustrating.
How are you doing with the Common Core so far? I’d love you hear about your experiences.