Hey. Everybody else is writing one. Why not me? Here's my teacher-cheerleading CCSS letter.
As everybody knows, US education has been descending into failure of Biblical proportions, leading to an entire generation of students who don't know enough to come in out the rain. We were facing world domination by Estonia and South Korea. Thank goodness a bunch of teachers got together, possibly teaming up with parents, to produce the Common Core State Standards which were totally not created by a bunch of guys from the major testing corporations. These life-changing and nation-rescuing standards were voluntarily adopted by 45 states who were in no way influenced by their desire to get their federal ed money and avoid the impending NCLB crash. In fact, these 45 states were so excited about voluntarily adopting CCSS, some of them did it before the standards were actually published.
In my own classroom, Common Core Standards have been pedagogically transformative in a dynamically epistomological kind of way. My students are involved in deep and thoughtful activities that involve interaction, reflection, and involvement. We do projects. We have discussions. We use critical thinking. We read books, and when we do, we read carefully and deeply and discuss ideas about the book while using details from the book to back these up. We even write stuff, and sometime use computers and techy things.
These may sound like activities that teachers have been doing in classrooms since the dawn of time, but before CCSS, I made my students learn everything by rote and repetition. We used pieces of slate that we drew on with charcoal. If we used novels at all, we simply let them sit on the desk and gained insights into the contents by consulting our spirit animals. I mean, I had no idea that critical thinking even was a thing! It used to take me three months just to introduce regular old thinking. Also, grit and rigor. We are awash in grit and rigor, and I can see with my own eyes that the grit and rigor is transforming my useless young hooligans into future investment bankers. It's awesome.
CCSS has liberated me. Once I open my Pearson test book and set up the lesson that is carefully aligned to the standards for that exact day of the school year, I am free to put my own personal spin on it. I could deliver the lesson with a red shirt on, or I could wear a blue shirt. I could recite the opener with a thoughtful face or a happy face. I can part my hair on whatever side I choose. Teachers who say that the Core is restrictive are just cray cray. Because freedom is slavery.
Of course, teachers need time to adjust to these new standards of awesomeness, time to plan lessons around our new materials, and time to adjust students to having just skipped an entire grade of instruction. And maybe we could hold off on the tests until, you know, some are actually written-- though the tests are a necessary part of the learning experience. Also, seeing results from last year's single test will totally tell me what I need to emphasize with next year's students.
But even though the standards have never been tested, we can all be assured that they will make all students gritty and rigorous and college ready. Whether students want to grow up to be artists, welders, scientists, writers, actors, engineers, or stay-at-home parents, don't they all deserve to have the exact same preparation for those futures? But by giving them rigorous tests now, we can unlock all their dreams for the future. Because dreams, rigor, common sense, and effectiveness.
I am a more effective teacher now that I have a set of government and corporate documents to tell me how to do my job. Also, ignorance is strength.