A New Style of Teaching in the U.S.
Oklahoma teachers have just two years to learn a new way of educating students in English language arts, literacy and math.
For the first time ever, 45 states across the U-S are adopting the same set of national standards put forth by governors and educators.
For some educators this could be a whole new way of doing things.
It might be summer, but about 35 teachers and administrators from the Gans school system in eastern Oklahoma are learning about Common Core.
Officials say Common Core Standards focus on real world problem solving with a heavy emphasis on reading.
Since 45 other states are joining the standards it will help with comparisons between the states and students moving to a new state will be on the same page as everyone else.
Teaching and Learning Specialist Kim Meigs from the Oklahoma Education Association is traveling across the state educating the educators and sees a lot of wide eyed expressions when she unveils the new standards.
“I think that right now many of them are anxious. It’s come at a time when teachers, many of them feel bashed and overwhelmed. They’re already working with increased class sizes, fewer teachers in the classroom, reduced budgetary needs.”
Third grade teacher Jana Morris admits she’s nervous.
“Well right now I really don’t understand it just yet. I got to get more acquainted with it. I think it will really make a difference after we start when we incorporating it into our classrooms and our kids.”
The Common Core standards focus on end of the year expectations in Kindergarten through 12th grade focused mostly on reading and critical thinking skills.
Under the new program, the teacher becomes more of a facilitator rather than lecturer.
High School Principal Larry Calloway’s been looking forward to Common Core, because it’s similar to the way he used to teach.
“I like the student involvement. I like the cooperative learning. I like the inquiry and all that kind of stuff because I think really you have to get down to why things are the way they are.”
The small school just south of Stillwell educates about 430 students from three-years-old through seniors in high school and all of them are on free or reduced lunches.
Superintendent Brenda Taylor believes Common Core won’t be easy for the veteran teachers because it creates a new style of educating for most instructors.
She says that’s why she wanted to give her teachers a head start on the program which doesn’t go into full effect for another two years.
“Feel like they can do this and be ready and start incorporating this now so that they’ve got enough in them that by the time kids are tested on this way of teaching they’re going to know and have them prepared.”
Taylor is also planning a community meeting to introduce the standards to parents.
The states not adopting the standard include Texas, Virginia, Nebraska, Minnesota and Alaska.
Back in 2010, Texas Governor Rick Perry said he was protesting the nationalization of education.
But, Oklahoma Superintendent Janet Barresi says these standards aren’t being handed down by the President or Congress.
She says it’s a collaboration between the National Governor’s Association and Council of Chief State School Officers.
“These two organizations joined with a think tank, if you will, called Achieve, Inc. and together developed these standards quite frankly without the assistance of the federal government.”
While the new standards don’t go into effect until the 2014-2015 school year, teachers will be facing other issues at the same time.
That’s the same year of a new teacher evaluation system and full implementation of social promotion which requires reading proficiency before third graders move on to fourth grade.
Meigs says while it certainly won’t be easy, she hopes this is the start of the future of education in the United States.
“My hope is that this will create a national dialogue about what is really great pedagogy? What is really great curricula? How do we work together on those things and teachers not be so isolated to really create engaging curriculum?”
She says teachers in Oklahoma need the resources, time and encouragement to make successful students.
Oklahoma is also putting together its own standard for history and social studies to add to the common core standards of English language arts, literacy and math.
The National Science Foundation is currently working to help create a Common Core Standard for science.