Recently a principal who attended one of our Leading the Common Core trainings lead her entire staff in an activity to help them begin unpacking the Common Core standards for themselves. Here’s part of an email she sent us one week later:
“We were able to present the Unpacking the Common Core Standards activity that you led us through here at our most recent staff meeting. The teachers did offer some “pushback” to the Thinking Processes we indicated for the standards – some with valid points and others with “just because I think what I think” if you know what I mean. Overall, I’d say the activity went very well.
We provided each teacher with the Thinking Processes chart and a list of the Common Core Standards you used in our session. Then we directed teachers to read through the chart and the standards and determine which thinking process(es) was demanded by the standard and why. They could work in grade level teams, alone or vertical teams – their choice.
Everyone came to the staff meeting prepared and anxious to find out if they were “right” with their thinking. The conversations that were generated were very thoughtful and a few questions were raised that helped us consider our own planning processes for developing units of instruction. I think the most rewarding part was that those of us on my leadership team who had attended the Leadership Training with you could basically sit back and let the teachers talk their way through these standards, offer a well-placed “why” every so often and the teachers would eventually come to the exact same thinking processes as we had agreed upon in your training!”
This principal and her leadership team learned first-hand the power of leading teachers through unpacking the standards. Not only did it generate really interesting conversations among teachers, it also helped teachers understand intimately the standards and how best to teach them. And, this process helped build consensus among teachers as to what the standards meant and how to teach them rigorously in the classroom. The teachers were so engaged in the process that the principal and her team have decided to repeat it at their next staff meeting.
If you really want to transform your school and experience powerful conversations about teaching and learning, I encourage you to do as this principal did and spend time unpacking the Common Core Standards as a school. Doing so can not only help you take ownership over your own teaching, it can get everyone engaged in conversations that really matter and thus reconnect you and your colleagues to your passion for teaching. Contact us to help guide you through this process.