Thursday, November 10, 2011

You Are Now Entering...

If I told you that this school year has been one of a kind, let's be honest...we both know that is such an understatement! I feel like a first year teacher all over again. Welcome to...My Twilight Zone.


When I flash back to my first year of teaching, those feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and inadequacy come flooding in. These emotions are fresh, as if it happened yesterday. I remember spending weekends and long hours lesson planning, scripting out what to say, and preparing materials for instruction. In hindsight, I unsuccessfully tried to control my chaos.


So, upon starting my 9th year of teaching, I felt confident. My familiarity with first grade curriculum, procedures, and expectations was second nature. I was excited to learn about the new Common Core Standards. I welcomed the notion of a consistent and rigorous curriculum to stimulate and guide student learning. Of course it was going to take effort, training, and diligence to successfully implement. My desire to teach students focused, challenging, and useful material justified the effort. 


Well, things are never as they appear. Now, I don't know about your district, but the Common Core is NOT the only new item on the table. We have thrown out older systems and procedures to clear the way for brand new Common Core resources. Since the start of the school year, I have participated in continual training and directives to learn how to implement new systems for: formative assessment, summative assessment, online lesson planning, report cards, and data analysis reports. 


Of course it makes sense that new standards would require new assessments. However, it is natural to question the integrity and validity of our newly compiled systems when they are causing such confusion and stress. When focus is spread too thin, it seems inevitable that communication and clarity of vision will falter. 


So, this begs the question: Are we trying to do too much at once? Is quantity interfering with the quality of student learning? Are we working against ourselves and producing the opposite desired effect? If districts create faulty and misaligned systems, how will this affect the implementation of the Common Core? 


For me, the most stressful feelings come from lack of communication, not knowing where to start, finding the time, and doing right by the students. Communication and collaboration can be a school's saving grace. Or, maybe things just have to fall apart so other things can fall into place. I totally think Pete the Cat was written for teachers. "Does Pete get upset? Goodness, no. Instead, Pete continues along singing his song about his" positive, focused, and flexible attitude. 


With that said, I try not to complain without offering a solution. However, we all know there is not a quick fix. So, I offer up a resource that I hope you'll find useful. It is a list of CCSS text exemplars from the North Carolina Department of Education. Not only are the exemplars sorted by grade level and genre, but you will find links to some of the poetry and short passage exemplars online, ISBN numbers, and prices at Amazon.com. This list mirrors the resources listed in CCSS Appendix B. Use the list as an example and reference for increasing text rigor. 

11 comments:

djdteacher said...

I feel your pain! I just moved from 5th grade to 1st grade this year. On top of that, we have the new Math and Language Arts standards, new standards-based grading, online lesson plans, and a new math series (EnVision)! This is my 7th year of teaching, and I am extremely overwhelmed!

Amy said...

I feel like other teachers I have talked to have said the same thing. I just keep hoping that in the long run it will be beneficial for the children.

MJ @ Teaching in Heels said...

It can be completely frustrating to want to implement everything, want to get these in place so the students can learn, but it really is just all so much all at once. I know those of us that blog are definitely the kind of teachers who are willing to do like you said, like Pete the Cat, get positive and make the changes!

Lori Faas said...

We were just discussing this today at our building planning team meeting. I have been at my school for 9 years and I have NEVER in all that time felt so stressed. We not only have all of the things mentioned but our district was put on the list of districts in need of improvement for our special ed kids. Lots of stress.
This will ease.
It's all good.
Lori
http://bee-the-change.blogspot.com/

Mrs. K said...

Thank you for the FABULOUS resource!! I'll share it with my team:) We haven't received any direction reference the ELA Common Core that we will have to implement for the 2012-2013 school year...

Cindy said...

You have just posted the thoughts & observations of so many teachers. Just this morning my team discussed how so many new assessments, trainings, and the micromanaging of our daily schedule is derailing the very thing it is supposed to improve; student achievement. We struggle to meet the ever increasing demands set by those who have no idea what it is like to be in the classroom, while our hands are tied as we try to fit in the things we know our kids need.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alicia,
Sister, you hit it on the head! I know how you are feeling! I've been teaching the same grade level in the same district as you for the past 13 years and I have never spent more time at school. Tomorrow is a day off and I'll be at school at 8 a.m. to try to, once again, get "the ducks back into their rows!" Sigh. Good luck and keep your chin up!
Catherine

Charlotte said...

We've definitely been thrown lots of new things...including a 4 page (2 pages, double sided) report card..yikes!) It's very overwhelming! Next year our whole state comes on board (NC) so maybe there will be even more resources!

Anonymous said...

God bless each of you wonderful people who diligently work, plan, prepare, and care about the students you are given each year to teach, mold, and instill the 'love' of learning.
Keep the faith! Always do what's best for the kids- they are our future.

Mrs. Lochridge said...

Thank you for all of your kind words. I truly appreciate the time and positivity you've shared. I have to truly thank the blogging community and the collaboration amongst teachers on the web. It is this collaboration and sharing of ingenuity that inspires me. You are all fabulous.

Alicia

Becky Lanham said...

I was so thrilled to find your blog that I nearly did a dance (ok I did do a dance). See, I taught for 4 years before staying home with my new kiddos. When my oldest got to 1st grade I went back as a TA and have loved the time off with my kids and lack of responsibility while still being able to provide insurance for my family. Unfortunately, benefits are about all I could provide. The pay is truly an insult. Well, I interviewed for a teaching position today and I'm pretty sure I got it...but HELLO! School starts on August 6 in our county. I told my husband that I will be shocked if the nausea in the pit of my stomach is gone by Christmas. However, seeing all of your great "stuff" has gotten me excited. Nausea is still there, but at least now it is mixed with a feeling of excitement. Thank you a million times! (and I will see ya soon at the factory!)

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