I am getting ready to go back to school, and although I have been teaching for 28 years I am almost as excited as I was in the first five years of my career. I’m lucky because I am one of those people for whom teaching and learning is a passion, and I lasted through the five years it took to become reasonably confident in what I do. The first two days of my new school year are set aside for Staff Development, and I am assuming that this means there will be time set aside for training in the Common Core. I’m not sure what that training will be but I am sure that it will have something to do with making small group work oart of our teaching.
The Orange County Register has issued two days of information and opinion about the Common Core and the start of the new school year. I am most interested in their article about teacher training. I am cautiously excited to see what there will be for me to learn in our two days of Staff DEvelopment. I say “cautiously” because it is hard to stay excited after many years of disappointment. My district will roll out a “new” program, and then not follow through on the training. One day of training is not enough,, and that is the most we get. Here’s hoping that in this “new era” things will be different. Yes, the County Department of Education has offered opportunities for teachers to attend training session on the Common Core, but have left it “up to teachers to attend.” That’s all very well, but it says nothing about continued training. At least my district has made an effort to provide us with an introduction to the elements of the Common Core that took place throughout the last school year. I am hoping that they continue to do so.
I spent the summer reading books about teaching kids to work together and feel renewed hope that I will do a better job this year. In the past I have been guilty of making assumptions about their abilities and just throwing them together to work. Now I know that I need to deliberately and explicitly teach the social skills my kids need to help them be successful.Helping students to work purposefully in pairs, small groups and as a class is an integral part of the Common Core, and I look forward to learning as much as my students do. At least now I have a better understanding of how to structure conversations so that kids can learn from their talk.
I know that one of my two days of training will be in “academic conversations” (yes, there is a book of the same title), and I know I will be learning something new and helpful in that session. My criteria for a successful workshop is that I will learn something I can use tomorrow in my classroom. I approach training with the attitude that I will learn something, and I usually do. I’ll let you know how it goes!